Kyle Jensen hit a grand slam, and the Suns rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Biscuits 6-2 at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery August 24, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns
By Steve Kolbe
The Jacksonville Suns rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Montgomery Biscuits 6-2 on Friday night to claim the first game of a pivotal five-game series at Riverwalk Stadium. Jacksonville is now just two games behind Montogmery in the South Division. After dropping nine of the first 12 games of the season against the Biscuits, the Suns have won seven straight in the season series by a combined score of 36-12.
The Biscuits dented the scoreboard in the third inning against Suns starter Jose Alvarez. After Mark Thomas was hit by a pitch and Mikie Mahtook walked, Ryan Garko drove in his 38th run of the season with a single to left field with Thomas scoring to put the Biscuits in front 1-0. Montgomery had a record of 15-4 at home when scoring the first run of the game. Jacksonville won for just the 18th time when allowing the first run.
Montgomery tacked on another run in the home half of the fourth inning. Omar Luna led off with a doubled and Michael Sheridan singled, with Luna advancing the third base. Mark Thomas then lifted a sacrifice fly to center, with Luna crossing the plate to increase the Biscuits lead to 2-0.
The Suns managed just a single by Ben Lasater in the first four innings against Biscuits starting pitcher Merrill Kelly. But once again the Suns used the long ball in the comeback. Kyle Skipworth led off the fifth inning with a solo home run to cut the lead to 2-1. Skipworth has 20 home runs this season, with four of them at the expense of the Biscuits pitching staff.
Kelly ran into trouble in the sixth inning when Alfredo Lopez was hit by a pitch, Jake Smolinski walked, and Chris Gutierrez singled to load the bases with no outs. Montgomery made the call to the bullpen and summoned C.J. Reifenhauser, and he was able to entice Zack Cox into a force play, but the Suns still had the bases full. Ben Lasater then delivered with a sacrifice fly to right field, with Smolinski racing in from third to even the score 2-2. After a mound visit from Biscuits pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein, the stage was set for the Suns to flex their muscles on the road. Rieferhauser tried to sneak a fastball past Kyle Jensen, who cleared the bases when he smashed his 23rd home run of the season over the high left field wall to put the Suns up 6-2. It was the Suns 100th home run of the season. Kyle Jensen has hit a homer in five straight games, and he joined Kyle Skipworth as the only Suns players with a grad slam this season, with both coming on the road.
Kyle Jensen went 2-for-4 for his third straight multi-hit game and 16th of the season. Jensen is third in the league with 75 RBI, and he’s tied for second with 23 home runs, one behind Joe Dunigan of the Jackson Generals. Jensen has a dozen hits against the Biscuits this season, five of them have been round trippers. Kyle Skipworth belted his 2oth home run of the season and scored two runs for the Suns. He has 10 hits this season against the Biscuits, including three home runs.
Ryan Garko led the Biscuits going 3-for-4 with three singles. Omar Luna, Michael Sheridan, and Mark Thomas each collected two hits for Montgomery in the loss.
Jacksonville improved to 10-9 in the season series against Montgomery, and won for just the fourth time at Riverwalk Stadium in 11 games. The Suns had been outscored 29-13 during a six game road losing streak.
The Suns are 20-14 when using the designated hitter, 10-9 against Montgomery. The Biscuits have lost five of ther last eight games, and their magic number to claim the second half in the South Division remains at eight.
Jose Alvarez (6-8) tossed 101 pitches allowing two runs on 10 hits in the win, with nine of the hits singles. Omar Luna’s double was the only extra base hit of the game for the Biscuits. Alvarez won for just the second time on the road this season (2-5). He is 2-0 this season in his four starts against Montgomery. Merrill Kelly (7-3) surrendered four runs on just three hits over five innings of work. Two of his three losses this season have been to the Suns.
Game two of the series is Saturday night with the first pitch slated for 8:05 PM from Riverwalk Stadium. RHP Matthew Neil (2-7, 4.34) will take the mound for the Suns. LHP Kyle Lobstein (7-6, 4.02) gets the start for the Biscuits.