Jake Smolinski(left)walked three times in the Suns 2-1 win over the Blue Wahoos July 16, 2012 at Bayfront Stadium. Photo Courtesy: Pensacola Blue Wahoos
By Steve Kolbe
Klye Skipworth hit a solo home run in the sixth inning to lead the Jacksonville Suns past the Pensacola Blue Wahoos 2-1 on Monday night at Bayfront Stadium.
The Suns took the lead in the third inning against Blue Wahoos starter J.C. Sulbaran. After retiring the first eight batters of the game, Sulbaran surrendered a single to Suns pitcher Graham Taylor with two outs in the third. Jake Smolinski then walked, and Chris Gutierrez beat out an infield single to load the bases. Paul Gran walked on a full count to force in Taylor to give the Suns a 1-0 lead. Jacksonville improved to 35-14 when scoring the first run of the game.
Kyle Skipworth increased the lead to 2-0 when he led of the sixth inning by smashing his eighth home run of the season off of reliever Wilkin De La Rosa. Skipworth has hit four of his eight home runs off of Blue Wahoos pitching, with three of them at Bayfront Stadium. The Suns have hit 21 of their 62 round trippers this season off Blue Wahoos pitching, the most against any team.
Graham Taylor pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just three singles. The Suns went to the bullpen with Kyle Kaminska entering the game in the seventh. Pensacola first baseman Beau Mills greeted Kaminska with a solo home run to right field to cut the Suns lead to 2-1, but that would be all the offense the Wahoos could generate in the game. Kaminska has given up a long ball in the seventh inning in each of his last two outings.
The win was just the fourth this season for the Suns when they have been held to three runs or less (4-33), with two of the four wins against the Blue Wahoos.
The Suns collected just five hits in the game, and have a total of 19 in the first three games of the series. Chris Gutierrez finished 2-for-4, and pitcher Graham Taylor went 2-for-2 and scored a run. With a pair of singles, Taylor is the first Suns pitcher with a multi-hit game this season. Jake Smolinski and Paul Gran each had three of the Suns nine walks in the game.
Jacksonville is 15-11 overall this season against Pensacola, and 9-4 at Bayfront Stadium with one game left to play. A win in the series finale on Tuesday would give the Suns their fourth series win over the Blue Wahoos this season. Pensacola hasn’t lost two straight games in nearly a month (June 25 and 26).
Graham Taylor (5-8) snapped a four game road losing streak, winning for the first time since April 23. In his last two starts overall, Taylor has allowed just one run over 11 innings of work. Josh Schmidt pitched the eighth for the Suns, striking out two of the four batters he faced. A.J. Ramos entered the game in the ninth inning and retired the side in order, including a strike out of David Vidal to end the game. Ramos earned his 11th save of the season, and has a save in each of the Suns last five wins. J.C. Sulbaran (6-7) allowed one run on three hits in four and two-thirds innings. He entered the game second in strikeouts in the Southern League, with 33 of his 94 strikeouts against the Suns over four games. Sulbaran had just four strikeouts Monday night and also walked four batters.
The final game of the season between the the Suns and Blue Wahoos is Tuesday night, with the first pitch slated for 8:00 p.m. RHP Matthew Neil (1-5, 5.72) takes the hill for the Suns. He has lost his last five decisions. RHP Wirfin Obispo (1-0, 2.28) is scheduled to make his first start of the season from the Blue Wahoos.