By Steve Kolbe
The Huntsville Stars hit three home runs to take game one of the three game series against the Suns, with a 7-4 win Saturday night at Joe Davis Stadium. The Stars are third in the Southern League with a team batting average of .262, behind Montgomery and Birmingham.
The Stars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Suns starter Alan Oaks struggled with his control. Oaks walked three batters in the inning, and Hunter Morris hit his team leading twelfth home run of the season, a two-run blast to straight away center. Oaks started two games for Jupiter this season, Saturday was his first start with the Suns. Jacksonville fell to 9-33 when allowing the first run of the game.
Huntsville used the long ball again in the second inning to tack on another run, with Kentrail Davis going deep for the second time this season, to increase the lead to 3-0. After the Davis home run, Oaks retired seven of the next eight batters he faced, five by strikeout.
The Suns got on the scoreboard in the top of the third, when Shawn Bowman belted his eighth home run of the season off of Stars starter Evan Anundsen to cut the lead to 3-1. Bowman is second on the team in homers behind Kyle Jensen (10).
Suns lefty Bobby Bramhall had his toughest outing of the season. With Bramhall taking over in the fifth inning, Stars catcher Anderson De La Rosa led off with his fourth home run of the season to add to the lead at 4-1. Huntsville pitcher Evan Anundsen helped his own cause with a double off the wall in right field, and Lee Haydel then singled to put runners on the corners with no outs. Josh Prince drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to put the Stars up 5-1, with Anundsen scoring on the play. Hunter Morris then tripled to right field with two outs to drive in Haydel from first for a 6-1 Stars advantage. Hanley Statia knocked in a run with a double to cap the scoring, with the Stars sending eight men to the plate and building a 7-1 lead.
Paul Gran hit a solo home run for the Suns in the sixth to make the score 7-2 Stars. Gran has hit a home run in back-to-back games, and has three round trippers in his last five games in the starting lineup. The Suns have hit seven home runs in their seven games against the Stars this season.
Jacksonville added two more runs in the eighth inning against reliever Kyle Heckathorn. Jose Duarte led off with a single, and pinch hitter Curt Smith doubled behind him to put runners on second and third with no outs. Paul Gran drove in a run with a ground out, and Chris Gutierrez plated a run with a single to make the score 7-4 Stars.
Jose Duarte went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles. Shawn Bowman and Paul Gran each hit home runs. The Suns have hit 59 home runs this season, seven against Huntsville. Hunter Morris finished 2-for-4, scored two runs, and drove in three. He now has 62 RBI’s, just one behind Tennessee’s Justin Bour for the league lead. Morris hit a two-run home run and added a triple against the Suns. He leads the Southern League with 42 extra-base hits.
Alan Oaks (1-2) allowed three runs on three hits over four innings in his first start for the Suns. He walked three in the first inning, after entering the game having walked a total of three batters in his first three appearances. Evan Anundsen (5-4) allowed two runs on three hits in six innings for the win. Brandon Kintzler retired the Suns in order in the ninth to earn his third save of the season.
Game two of the series is Sunday from Joe Davis Stadium in Huntsville, with the first pitch scheduled for 4:05 p.m. RHP Bryan Evans (2-5, 3.61) will take the mound for the Suns. RHP Johnnie Lowe (4-0, 3.55 ERA in Triple-A) will start for the Stars.