Monthly Archives: August 2012

Buss Takes Lookouts To 11th Inning Win

By Steve Kolbe

It hasn’t happened often, but Suns closer A.J. Ramos was unable to lock down a win for Jacksonville on Friday night at AT&T Field, with the Chattanooga Lookouts scoring the game-tying run in the 10th inning, and an inning later winning in walk-off fashion when left fielder Nick Buss hit a three run home run for a 6-3 victory.   All eight of the Suns extra inning games this season have been played on the road, with Jacksonville 4-4 in those games. 

The Lookouts have won the first four games of the series by a combined count of 25-11.  The Suns are just 3-11 against the Lookouts this season, and have won just two of the nine games played in the Volunteer State.   

Jacksonville dented the scoreboard first on Friday against Lookouts starter Zack Lee.  Kyle Jensen belted a solo home run to right field in the top of the second inning to put the Suns in front 1-0.  Jensen leads the Suns, and is tied for third in the Southern League with 18 round trippers this season.  Four of his 18 homers have come at the expense of Lookouts pitching.
 
The Lookouts responded in the home half of the second against Suns lefty Brian Flynn.  With one out, Luis Nunez singled to start the rally. Brahiam Maldonado followed with a double to the gap in left-center field, with the speedy Nunez scoring all the way from first base to tie the game 1-1.
 
In the fourth inning the Lookouts put together a two-out rally against Flynn.  After J.T. Wise and Blake Smith struck out, Chattanooga collected three straight singles.  Nunez again record the first hit in the inning, and Maldonado singled to put runners on first and third.  C.J Retherford then sent a pop up into shallow right field that fell just out of the reach of Suns second baseman Paul Gran, with Nunez coasting home on the bloop single to give the Lookouts a 2-1 edge. 
 
With the game in the hands of both bullpens, the Suns faced three Lookouts pitchers in the eighth inning.  Paco Rodriguez gave up back-to-back singles to Ben Lasater and Kyle Skipworth to start the eighth.  Rodriguez then turned the game over to Chris Withrow, who struck out Kyle Jensen, but then walked Danny Pertusati on four pitches to load the bases.  On a delivery to Paul Gran, Withrow’s pitch went all the way to the backstop with Lasater hustling home on the pass ball to even the score 2-2.  Withrow suffered an injury on the pitch and was forced to leave the game. 
 
With Lookouts closer Steven Ames on the mound in the 10th inning, Danny Pertusati tripled to straight-away center.  Donnie Webb followed with an infield single with Pertusati crossing the plate to give the Suns a 3-2 edge.  
 
With the lead, and looking to snap their losing skid, Jacksonville summoned A.J. Ramos from the bullpen.  Rafael Ynoa grounded out to first, and Jake Lemmerman went down on strikes.  With two outs in the bottom of the 10th, J.T. Wise hit his fourth double of the series to keep the Lookouts hopes alive.  
 
Blake Smith came to the plate and fell behind in the count 0-2.  That normally means lights out with Ramos on the mound, but with the Lookouts down to their last strike, Smith doubled to right field with Wise scoring the equalizer.  It’s just the fourth time this season that Ramos has failed to lock  down a save in 21 opportunities.
 
Things went from bad to worse in the bottom of the eleventh inning.   After singles by Aaron Miller and Griff Erickson, Nick Buss stepped in and smashed his sixth home run of the season over the right field wall to hand the Lookouts a walk-off 6-3 win.  Ramos has allowed just two home runs in 61 innings of work this season.  Ramos gave up the long ball for the first time since May 2nd, when Birmingham Barons first baseman Andy Wilkins hit a two-run homer against him. 
 
Zack Cox went 3-for-6 with three singles.  Kyle Jensen and Danny Pertusati each collected two hits.   Suns batters struck out 11 times in the game, and have gone down on strikes 48 times in the series.  Luis Nunez finished the night 3-for-5 and scored two runs for the Lookouts.  Rafael Ynoa, Griff Erickson, and Brahiam Maldonado each were 2-for-5. 
 
The Lookouts have found their way to the win column in six of last seven games, and improved to 18-11 at home in the second half.  The Suns fell to 9-15 on the road, and have lost a season-high five straight road games.  Jacksonville’s six-game overall losing streak is the longest by the club since a six-game slid May 6th-11th, when the Suns were outscored 26-3 and shutout three times. 
 
Suns starter Brian Flynn allowed two runs on seven hits, and struck out four without walking a batter in five innings.  Lookouts starter Zach Lee also lasted five innings, giving up a run on six hits.  A.J. Ramos (3-2) allowed four runs, all earned, on five hits over two innings in the loss.  Ramos had allowed just five earned runs all season entering the game.  Steven Ames (2-3) tossed two innings for the Lookouts in the win.
 
The Suns will try to salvage the series finale on Saturday with the first pitch slated for 7:15 PM from AT&T Field in Chattanooga.  LHP Jose Alvarez (5-7, 4.10) will start his 22nd game of the season for Jacksonville.  RHP Andres Santiago (0-0, 3.60) is set to start his first game of the season for Chattanooga.  The Suns havn’t been swept in a series this season.
 
 
 

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Suns Fall 6-1; Lose Fifth Straight

 

Lookouts third baseman Luis Nunez(above)finished with three hits and drove in a run for Chattanooga in a 6-1 win over the Jacksonville Suns at AT&T Field August 16, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Chattanooga Lookouts

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns lost for the fifth straight game, falling 6-1 to the Lookouts on Thursday night at AT&T Field in Chattanooga.  The Lookouts have outscored the Suns 19-8 in the first three games of the series.   Jacksonville has allowed five runs or more in six of the last seven games.
 
The Suns found the scoreboard first in the third inning with a two-out rally against Lookouts starter Allen Webster.  Chris Gutierrez doubled to right-center field, and Zack Cox reached base on an error by third baseman Luis Nunez with Gutierrez moving to third.  Ben Lasater delivered with a RBI single to left field, with Gutierrez hustling home to put the Suns in front 1-0.  Gutierrez leads the Suns with 22 doubles this season.  The Suns fell to 46-20 when scoring the first run of the game.
 
After getting runners to second and third in each of the first two innings and leaving them on base, the Lookouts broke through in the home half of the third against Suns starter Bryan Evans.  The first four batters of the inning each collected a hit, with Nick Buss and J.T. Wise starting the rally with singles.  They weren’t on base long, with Blake Smith swinging at the first pitch he saw from Evans and sending a triple into the gap in left-center, with Buss scoring from second and Wise scoring all the way from first to give the Lookouts a 2-1 lead.  Luis Nunez then singled to drive in Smith from third base to make the score 3-1.  Nunez would be the last batter that Evans would face in the game after throwing 63 pitches in just two innings, and only 29 of his pitches were strikes.
 
The Lookouts doubled their lead in the sixth against Suns reliever James Leverton.  Bobby Coyle singled, went to second on a sacrifice bunt, and advanced to third on a ground out.  With two outs, Rafael Ynoa drove in Coyle with a single to left field to make pad the lead to 4-1.  After a  walk to Nick Buss put runners on first and second, J.T. Wise hit a base-clearing double to the gap in left-center to increase the Lookouts lead to 6-1.  Ynoa has five hits, two RBI’s, and three runs scored in the series.  Wise has six hits in the series, and has driven in seven runs in the last two games.
 
Jacksonville had three hits in the first three innings, and then just three hits the rest of the game.  The Suns have been outscored 35-21 during their five-game losing streak, and have fallen four games back in the South Division.  Chattanooga has won three in a row and five of the last six to climb to the top of the North Division.
 
The top five in the Lookouts batting order were a combined 11-for-21 with six RBI’s and five runs scored.  J.T. Wise and Luis Nunez combined for half of the Lookouts 12 hits with  three each.  Wise has three doubles and a home run in the last two games.  Rafael Ynoa and Blake Smith both went 2-for-4.  Paul Gran went 2-for-4 for the Suns. 
 
The Lookouts hit five doubles, the most the Suns have allowed in a game since April 27th against Pensacola.  The Suns are 5-for-23 and the Lookouts are 9-for-38 with runners in scoring position in the first three games of the series.
 
Bryan Evans (5-7) allowed three runs on five hits and struggled with his control in a season-low two innings of work.  He started off only one of the 14 batters he faced in the game with a strike.  Allen Webster (6-8) allowed one unearned run on five hits in 5.1 innings for the win.  He hasn’t suffered a lost in his last eight starts going back to July 2nd.  The Lookouts bullpen combined to pitch 3.2 hitless innings.  Scott Elbert, in Chattanooga on a rehab assignment from the Dodgers, struck out the side in the eighth and has fanned all five batters he has faced in the series. 
 
Game four of the series is Friday night with the first pitch scheduled for 7:15 PM from AT&T Field in Chattanooga.  LHP Brian Flynn (2-0, 3.42) will take the mound for the Suns.  RHP Zach Lee (1-3, 6.05) will start for the Lookouts.
 
 

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Lookouts Fast Start Sinks Suns

 By Steve Kolbe

The Chattanooga Lookouts scored all of their runs in the first three innings in a 9-6 win over the Jacksonville Suns on Wednesday at AT&T Field.  The Suns have allowed 29 runs during their four-game losing streak.
 
The Lookouts came out swinging from the start in the first inning against Suns starter Graham Taylor.  Rafael Ynoa led off with a single to center, and Jake Lemmerman reached on an error by Suns first baseman Ben Lasater.  J.T. Wise then drove in the first run of the night with a sacrifice fly, with Ynoa scoring to put the Lookouts up 1-0.  With two outs, Blake Smith belted his 12th home run of the season, a two-run blast to right-center to increase the lead to 3-0.    
 
The Suns dented the scoreboard in the top of the second against Lookouts starter Aaron Miller.  After singles by Kyle Skipworth and Alfredo Lopez, Jake Smolinski hit a two-out double down the left field line to cut the lead to 3-2.  Smolinski and Chris Gutierrez are tied for the team lead with 21 doubles this season.
 
Chattanooga sent nine men to the plate in the home half of the second inning and exploded for four more runs to make the score 7-2.  Rafael Ynoa drove in a run with a double, and also scored on a throwing error by Suns third baseman Zack Cox.  J.T. Wise provided the big hit in the inning when he smashed a two-run home run to left field.  The Lookouts scored nine runs on 11 hits in the first three innings.  
 
The Suns countered with four runs of their own in the top of the sixth.  After singles by Danny Pertusati and Zach Cox, Kyle Jensen hit his 17th home run of the season and Kyle Skipworth followed with his 17th round tripper of the year, as the Suns hit back-to-back home runs in the inning to cut the lead to 9-6.  Jensen has hit four three-run home runs this season.  But that’s as close as the Suns would get, managing just one hit in the final three innings.
 
Kyle Skipworth went 2-for-3 and was the only Suns player with a multi-hit game.  The Suns have hit a total of six home runs against the Lookouts this season, with Jensen and Skipworth belting three each.  Blake Smith went 3-for-5 with a home run to lead the Lookouts.  J.T. Wise was 2-for-4 and drove in five of the Lookouts runs, the most RBI’s by a single player in a game against the Suns this season.  Rafael Ynoa, Brahiam Maldonado, Griff Erikson, and C.J. Retherford each had two hits.
 
Chattanooga improved to 9-3 against Jacksonville this season.  The Lookouts finished with 15 hits, one shy of the most allowed by the Suns in a single game during the 2012 campaign.
 
Graham Taylor (7-10) allowed nine runs on 11 hits in the loss.  Aaron Miller (6-6) surrendered six runs on seven hits to win for the first time in his last four starts.  Miller has half of his wins at the expense of the Suns, with a record of 3-0.  Steven Ames earned his 16th save of the season for the Lookouts.
 
The middle game of the series is Thursday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:15 PM from AT&T Field in Chattanooga.  RHP Bryan Evans (5-6, 4.15) will try to end the Suns four-game slide, while RHP Allen Webster (5-8, 3.83) will start for the Lookouts.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Matt Magill Shuts Down Suns

 

Matt Magill(above) allowed just two singles and struck out 11 over seven innings of work in the Lookouts 4-1 win over the Jacksonville Suns at AT&T Field. Photo Courtesy: Chattanooga Lookouts

 By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns scored a run in the ninth to avoid begin shutout for the 11th time this season, but fell 4-1 to the Lookouts in the first of a five game series at AT&T Field in Chattanooga.  The Suns are 3-8 against the Lookouts this season.  Since a five-game sweep against the Montgomery Biscuits, the Suns have lost three straight and four of their last five.  The Suns fell into a second place tie with Pensacola, two games behind the first place Biscuits.
 
Suns starter Matthew Neil and Lookouts starter Matt Magill kept the game scoreless for the first six innings, with Neil allowing just four hits and Magill touched for only two singles.  Chattanooga took the lead in the bottom of the seventh with an unearned run.  Luis Nunez led off with a double and scored on a throwing error by Suns first baseman Ben Lasater to put the Lookouts up 1-0.  Lasater fielded Jake Lemmerman’s sacrifice bunt, and when he tried to throw out Nunez at third, the ball sailed into left field.   Jacksonville fell to 15-42 when giving up the first run of the game.
 
The Lookouts added insurance in the bottom of the eighth against Suns reliever Mike Ojala.  The first four batters of the inning each had a hit, starting with J.T. Wise, who led off the inning with his 31st double of the season.  After a single by Blake Smith put runners on first and third, Brahiam Maldonado singled with Wise coasting home to increase the Lookouts lead to 2-0.  Luis Nunez then doubled down the left field line, with Smith coming around to score to make the score 3-0.  Jake Lemmerman tacked on the Lookouts last run with a sacrifice fly, with Maldonado touching the plate and the Lookouts were in command 4-0.
 
Lookouts starter Matt Magill was untouchable, retiring 14 straight Suns batters after Jake Smolinski singled in the third inning.  The Suns scored their lone run in the top of the ninth against Lookouts reliever Chris Withrow.  After walks to Chris Gutierrez and Ben Lasater, Kyle Skipworth drove in his 51st run of the season with a two-out single to center. 
 
Luis Nunez and Blake Smith each finished 2-for-4 for the Lookouts, with Nunez hitting a pair of doubles.  Kyle Skipworth finished with two of the Suns three singles.  Ben Lasater reached base twice with walks.  Chris Gutierrez with a walk, and Jake Smolinski with a single were the only other Suns players to reach base.  The Suns had just four base runners in the first eight innings. 
 
The Suns struck out 16 times in the game, one shy of their season-high of 17 set on May 2nd at Birmingham.  Nine of the 10 Suns players with a plate appearance struck out at least once.  Ben Lasater was the only player that didn’t go down on strikes in the game.
 
Matthew Neil (2-7) allowed one unearned run on five hits in the loss.  Matt Magill (10-6) surrendered just two singles over his seven innings in the win.  Magill stuck out 11 Suns batters, one shy of his season high, to increase his league-leading total to 147 strikeouts.  Magill’s 10 wins are the third-most in the Southern League, with Nicklas Struck of Tennessee leading with 13 wins, and Huntsville’s Josh Stinson second with 11 victories.  Chris Withrow earned his second save of the season. 
 
The Suns will look to get even in the series on Wednesday, with the first pitch slated for 7:15 PM from AT&T Field in Chattanooga.  LHP Graham Taylor (7-9, 3.86) takes the hill for the Suns.  LHP Aaron Miller (5-6, 4.26) will start for the Lookouts.
 
 

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BayBears Top Suns 10-8 In Series Finale

 

The Mobile BayBears scored three runs in each of the first three innings, and then hung on for a 10-8 win over the Suns August 12, 2012 at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Mobile BayBears slipped past the Suns 10-8 in a slugfest on Sunday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.  After winning the first six games of their 10-game home stand, the Suns dropped three of the final four.  Mobile finished the season with a record of 16-9 against the Suns, and won 10 of the 15 games played in Jacksonville.  The Suns fell to second place in the South Division, one game behind the Biscuits.
 
The BayBears dented the scoreboard in the first inning against Suns starter Jose Alvarez.  Evan Frey led off with his third triple of the season, and Chris Owings followed with a single to put Mobile in front 1-0.  A batter later, Matt Davidson smashed a two-run home run to increase the lead to 3-0.  Davidson is second in the league with 21 home runs.  In the bottom of the inning, Chris Gutierrez reached on an error and scored when Ben Lasater doubled to left field to make the score 3-1.  Lasater finished the series 11-for-14 with four RBI’s.
 
Mobile scored three more runs in the top of the second with one swing of the bat.  Alvarez retired the first two batters of the inning, but then allowed singles by David Holmberg and Evan Frey.  Chris Owings followed with a three-run home run to give the BayBears a 6-1 edge.  Owings entered the game without a hit in his last 18 at bats, he finished 2-for-5 and drove in four runs on Sunday.  The BayBears hit 13 home runs against the Suns during the season.  Alvarez allowed five home run in 109 innings entering the game, he surrendered two long balls in two innings against Mobile.
 
The Suns again scored a run in the home half of the inning, when Kyle Jensen hit a solo home run to make the score 6-2.  Jensen tied Kyle Skipworth for the team lead with 16 round trippers.  Jensen has hit five of his 16 homers against the BayBears this season. 
 
In the third, Mobile sent eight men to the plate and scored three runs for a third straight inning.  Ryan Strieby and David Nick singled, and Brent Clevlen walked to load the bases.  Alvarez walked Ed Easley to force in a run, David Holmberg had a RBI single, and Evan Frey drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.  The BayBears had built a 9-2 lead and forced Alvarez from the game by the end of the inning.  Alvarez had allowed just six runs in his previous 29 innings of work before Sunday. 
 
Zack Cox connected for his first home run with the Suns, a three-run home run in the bottom of the third to cut the lead to 9-5.  Cox hit nine home runs with the Memphis Redbirds this season before being acquired by Miami from St. Louis.  He has 10 RBI’s in his first seven games with the Suns.
 
The teams went scoreless from the fourth until the eighth inning, when Matt Davidson drove in his third run of the game with a double, with Alfredo Marte scoring on the play to give the BayBears what appeared to be a comfortable 10-5 lead.  Mobile scored at least five runs in the final four games of the series.  It’s the first time this season that the BayBears have tallied five or more in four consecutive games.
 
The Suns didn’t go away quietly.  In the bottom of the ninth, a walk to Kyle Skipworth and singles by both Paul Gran and Jake Smolinski loaded the bases.  With two outs, Chris Gutierrez hit a fly ball deep to left-center field, just missing a grand slam with the ball bouncing off the top of the wall for a bases-clearing double, and the Suns trailed 10-8.  Eury De La Rosa entered the game and enticed Danny Pertusati to ground out to end the game.
 
Zach Cox went 2-for-4 with a three run home run.  Chris Gutierrez also drove in three runs with his ninth inning double.   The BayBears collected 15 hits in the game, just one shy of the most in a game this season against the Suns. 
 
Evan Frey and Matt Davidson each had three hits on the night for the BayBears.  Chris Owings went 2-for-5 with four RBI’s.  The BayBears had at least one baserunner in every inning except the ninth, every player in the  lineup reached base at least once during the night, and every BayBears player scored at least one run with exception of Ed Easley.  The BayBears won four of the five series against the Suns during the season.
 
After pitching complete games in each of his last two starts, Jose Alvarez (5-7) allowed nine runs on nine hits in a season-low two and a-third innings in the loss.  Alvarez had allowed just six runs in his last five starts at the Baseball Grounds.  David Holmberg (4-4) surrendered five runs on five hits over six innings for the win.  Eury De La Rosa earned the save for the second straight night.
 
The Suns begin a five-game series against the first place Chattanooga Lookouts at AT&T Field on Tuesday, night with the first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m.  RHP Matthew Neil will start for the Suns.  RHP Matt Magill takes the mound for the Lookouts. 
 
 

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Suns Stumble In Late Innings

 

The BayBears scored six times in the final three innings, erasing a 4-0 deficit for a 6-4 win over the Suns at the Baseball Grounds August 11, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns let one slip away on Saturday night at the Baseball Grounds.  After the Suns built a 4-0 lead over the BayBears through six innings, Mobile scored six runs in the final three innings for a 6-5 win.  The loss, combined with the Montgomery Biscuits walk-off win in the ninth inning on Saturday, dropped the Suns back into a first place tie with the Biscuits in the South Division.  Three of the BayBears four wins in August have been at the expense of the Suns.
 
The Suns took the lead in the second inning against BayBears starter Chase Anderson.  After singles by Kyle Skipworth and Ben Lasater, Kyle Jensen launched a three-run home run over the left field fence to put Jacksonville up 3-0.  It was the third home run that Anderson has allowed to the Suns in his last two starts.  Jensen has hit four of his 15 home runs this season against Mobile, and he has three three-run homers on the year, all off of BayBears pitching.  The Suns have hit a total of 16 home runs against the BayBears, second-most against any team (23 against Pensacola). 
 
Jacksonville increased the lead in the home half of the fifth when Chris Gutierrez reached second base on a throwing error by shortstop Chris Owings, and scored on a RBI single by Danny Pertusati to make the score 4-0.  Pertusati has 12 hits and a dozen RBI’s against the BayBears this season in the two series that he has played. 
 
Suns starter Brian Flynn was in line for his third straight win when he left the game in the seventh inning with the bases loaded.  Reliever Mike Ojala entered, and pinch hitter Kyle Greene singled to left field to plate the BayBears first run and make the score 4-1.  Ojala then walked Evan Frey to force in a run and the Suns lead was cut in half at 4-2.  Collin Cargill entered the game and struck out Alfredo Marte with the bases loaded to end the threat. 
 
In the eighth, the BayBears would send eight men to the plate for the second straight inning.  Matt Davidson was hit by Cargill to lead off the inning, and Brent Clevlen walked to put runners on first and second.  With one out, David Nick singled to left with Davidson scoring on the play to trim the Suns lead to 4-3.  Edgar Olmos then entered the game from the busy Suns bullpen on the pitching change, and walked Ed Easley to load the bases for a second straight inning.  Evan Frey then delivered with a single to drive in two runs and hand the BayBears their first lead of the night 5-4.
 
The Suns evened the score in the bottom of the eighth against Mobile closer Evan Marshall.  Kyle Skipworth doubled to lead off the inning, and scored when Ben Lasater singled to left to tie the game 5-5.  It was Marshall’s fifth blown save of the season. 
 
Walks continued to trouble the Suns in the ninth, when Olmos put the leadoff hitter Alfredo Marte aboard with a free pass.  Jordan Conley entered the game for the Suns bullpen with one out in the ninth, and hit Brent Clevlen with a pitch to put runners on first and second.  BayBears first baseman Ryan Strieby had entered the game with just two hits in the series, but his single in the ninth on Saturday drove in Marte from second with the game-winning run in the BayBears 6-5 win.  After collecting just two hits in the first six innings of the game, Mobile scored six times on six hits in the final three frames of the night.
 
The Suns lost for just the third time this season when leading after the seventh inning, with all three defeats at the Baseball Grounds.  The Mississippi Braves scored five runs in the ninth for an 8-5 win July 20th, and the Huntsville Stars plated a pair of runs to slip past the Suns 5-4 April 6th.  Jacksonville lost for the first time this season when leading a game by four or more runs.  The Mobile BayBears have a record of 59-60, with 15 of their wins against the Suns (25-percent).
 
Ben Lasater went 4-for-4 with four singles, and he is 10-for-11 in the series.  Kyle Skipworth and Kyle Jensen each collected two hits.  David Nick finished 2-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored for Mobile.  Evan Frey drove in three of the BayBears six runs on the night.  Suns pitchers combined to walk six BayBears batters, with three coming around to score.
 
Neither starter figured in the decision.  Suns lefty Brian Flynn allowed two runs on three hits over his six innings.  BayBears starter Chase Anderson allowed four runs on seven hits in his four and two-thirds innings of work.  Edgar Olmos (0-1) was charged with the game-winning run in the loss.  Evan Marshall (6-2) pitched an inning for the win.  Eury De La Rosa earned his third save of the season after nearly allowing a walk-off home run to Jake Smolinski in the bottom of the ninth, but the ball went foul down the left field line.
 
The series finale is set for Sunday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m.   LHP Jose Alvarez (5-6, 3.48) will start his 21st game of the season for the Suns.  LHP David Holmberg (3-4, 3.68) will take the mound for the BayBears.
 
 
 
 

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Pertusati Paces Suns In 11-5 Win

 

The top four in the Suns batting order drove in every run, and Jacksonville collected 13 hits against Mobile pitching in an 11-5 win over the BayBears at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville August 10, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Mobile BayBears

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns scored eight unanswered runs in an 11-5 win over the Mobile BayBears on Friday afternoon at the Baseball Grounds.  The Suns have won two of the first three games of the series, and improved to 18-10 at home in the second half of the season.
 
Danny Pertusati gave the Suns a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a two-run home run off of BayBears starter Brett Lorin.  The Suns improved to 46-18 when scoring the first run of the game.  Mobile took the lead 3-2 in the top half of the second with a two-out rally, with Brett Lorin driving in two of the runs with a single to center and Wladimir Sutil driving in another with his 14th double of the season.  The Suns tied game 3-3 in the bottom of the second, when Alfredo Lopez walked and scored on Jake Smolinski’s single up the middle. 
 
Mobile took a 5-3 advantage in the top of the third, but that would be all the offense the BayBears could generate.  The Suns scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead 6-5.  Pertusati provided the big hit with a two-run triple.  Jacksonville tacked on another run in the sixth inning to make the score 7-5, and put the game away with a four-run eighth inning for the 11-5 final.  The Suns have scored 10 or more runs in a game eight times this season and twice in the last dozen games
 
Danny Pertusati went 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI’s, one shy of Kyle Skipworth’s season-high of six RBI’s May 26th at Chattanooga.   Pertusati has hit all four of his home runs against the BayBears.  Ben Lasater finished 4-for-5 with a RBI.  Zach Cox drove in three runs, and Jake Smolinski reached base three times and scored twice.  The top four players in the Suns batting order combined to go 10-for-15 with 10 RBI’s and seven runs scored.  After collecting 12 singles in the first two games, the Suns finished with five extra-base hits in the game (2 doubles, 2 home runs, and a triple).
 
Bryan Evans (5-6) allowed five runs on five hits over five innings to win his third straight decision.  Brett Lorin (3-8) surrendered six runs on eight hits in four innings to drop his third straight game.
 
Game four of the series is Saturday night with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.  LHP Brian Flynn (2-0, 4.08) will take the mound for the Suns in search of his third straight win.  RHP Chase Anderson (3-3, 2.62) gets the call for the BayBears. 
 

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BayBears End Suns Winning Streak

 

The Mobile BayBears defeated the Suns 6-2 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The loss ended the Suns nine-game home winning streak. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns nine-game home winning streak came to an end, with a 6-2 loss to the Mobile BayBears on Thursday night at the Baseball Grounds.   The Suns loss, combined with the Biscuits 6-4 win over the Jackson Generals, dropped Jacksonville into a first place tie with Montgomery in the South Division. 
 
Mobile took the lead in the top of the fourth inning against Suns starter Graham Taylor.  After Alfredo Marte led off with a walk and Matt Davidson singled, Brent Clevlen belted a three-run home run to left field to put the BayBears up 3-0.  It’s the 13th home run that Taylor has surrendered this season.  Since returning to Mobile from Triple-A Reno, Clevlen has reached base in 11 straight games.  The Suns dropped to 15-40 when allowing the first run of the game.
 
After being held without a hit through the first four innings by BayBears starter Mike Bolsinger, the Suns dented the scoreboard in the home half of the fifth.  Alfredo Lopez singled and Graham Taylor walked to put runners on first and second with one out.  Jake Smolinski then launched a 3-0 pitch down the left field line toward the foul pole, with the ball bouncing off the top of the wall mere inches from a game-tying three-run home run.  Lopez scored from second on the play to make the score 3-1, with Taylor going to second base and Smolinski being held to a long single.  Paul Gran then singled to load the bases, and Zack Cox singled up the middle with Taylor scoring from third to cut the lead to 3-2, but Smolinski was thrown out by center fielder Evan Frey on a close play at the plate.
 
Mobile increased the lead in the eighth inning against Suns reliever Arquimedes Caminero.  Matt Davidson walked and Brent Clevlen singled, and both runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch.  Ryan Strieby then singled with both base runners crossing the plate, and the BayBears led 5-2.  Strieby took second on a throw to the plate, and later scored when Ed Easley hit a ground rule double down the right field line to add to the lead at 6-2.
 
Brent Clevlen went 2-for-4 with three RBI’s and two scored.  Ed Easley also finished with two hits.  Matt Davidson scored twice for the BayBears.  The BayBears scored more than three runs in a game for just the ninth time in their last 32 games.  The Suns had seven hits, all were singles, including Smolinski’s 321 foot single off the wall.  In the first two games of the series, all 12 of the Suns hits have been base hits. 
 
Graham Taylor (7-9) allowed three runs on four hits over six innings and lost for the first time in his last six starts.  Taylor had been touched for just three runs in his previous five starts, and given up just one run in his previous 20 innings before Thursday.  Mike Bolsinger (4-2) surrendered two runs on four hits in his five innings of work for the win.
 
The middle game of the series is Friday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, with the Suns and BayBears meeting in a matinee that starts at 1:05 p.m.  In a match up of right handers, Bryan Evans (4-6, 3.94) takes the mound for Jacksonville and Brett Lorin (3-7, 5.10) will start for Mobile.
 

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Suns Tame BayBears 2-0

 

Suns starter Matthew Neil(above left)pitched six shutout innings, and  Ben Lasater (above right)drove in both runs with a pinch-hit single in the Suns 2-0 win over the Mobile BayBears. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns won their ninth straight home game and a season-high six straight overall, with a 2-0 shutout over the Mobile BayBears on Tuesday night at the Baseball Grounds.  The Suns have outscored their opponents by a combined 47-21 during their home winning  streak.  Four of the last six victories have been by shutout.  Jacksonville is 8-13 against Mobile this season, with each team scoring 71 runs in the season series.  Three of the Suns eight wins have been shutouts.
 
Suns starter Matthew Neil entered the game in search of his first win since June.  He surrendered just five singles over his six innings of work, and only once did he allow more than one base runner in an inning.  Neil and three relievers combined on a five-hitter, all singles.
 
The Suns were held without a hit through the first four innings by BayBears starter Derek Eitel, until Danny Pertusati singled in the fifth inning to give the Suns first hit of the game.  Jacksonville scored the only runs of the night in the bottom of sixth.  Curt Smith and Paul Gran singled to put runners on first and third with one out.  After Kyle Jensen struck out, the BayBears intentionally walked Pertusati to get to the pitcher’s spot.  Ben Lasater emerged from the dugout to pinch hit for Matthew Neil, and after running the count full against Eitel, delivered by smashing a single to center field with both Smith and Gran crossing the plate to give the Suns a 2-0 lead.  Jacksonville improved to 45-18 when scoring the first run of the game.
 
Mobile won eight of the first 10 meetings between the two teams at the Baseball Grounds.  The Suns improved to 17-9 at home in the second half with the win, and are alone in first place for the first time since May 4th.  Jacksonville has won 11 of the last 14 games, limiting opponents to three runs or fewer 10 times.
 
The BayBears fell to 8-18 on the road, and after finishing the first half in the South Division with a 40-30 record,  the BayBears have struggled to a 17-29 record in the second half.
 
Matthew Neil (2-6) allowed five hits over six innings to earn his second Double-A victory, and win his first game since June 1st at Pensacola.  The win is Neil’s first at home this season.  A.J. Ramos entered the game in the eighth inning with two on and one out.  He retired the all five batters that he faced in the game, striking out three, for his 17th save of the season.  Derek Eitel (7-9) allowed two runs on four hits, struck out four and walked six in the loss.  He has dropped five of his last six decisions.
 
Five different Suns players had one hit.  Ben Lasater increased his RBI total to eight by driving in two runs with his single in the sixth inning.  Shortstop Chris Gutierrez had his nine-game hitting streak come to an end.  He went 0-for-1 before leaving the game in the fifth inning after being hit in the left forearm with a pitch.  Evan Frey and Alfredo Marte each finished with two of the BayBears six singles.  The two teams were a combined 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. 
 
Game two of the series is Thursday night from the Baseball Grounds, with the first pitch slated for 7:35 p.m.  LHP Graham Taylor (7-8, 3.81) is scheduled to start for the Suns.  RHP Michael Bolsinger (3-2, 3.78) will take the mound for the BayBears.

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Suns Complete Sweep Of Biscuits; Take First Place

 

Jose Alvarez tossed a two-hitter in the Suns 4-0 rain-shortened win against the Biscuits. Jacksonville completed a five game sweep over Montgomery to win five in a row for the first time this season. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns completed a five-game sweep over the Montgomery Biscuits, with a 4-0 rain-shortened victory on Tuesday night at the Baseball Grounds.  The Suns took over sole possession of first place in the South Division with the win.  It’s the first time since the 30th game of the first half that the Suns have been alone in first.
 
Suns starter Jose Alvarez has been the Suns starter for five of the 10 shutouts tossed against Jacksonville this season.  Against Montgomery on Tuesday, he turned in his second straight dominating performance in the last week.  
 
After suffering a complete game 1-0 loss last Thursday in Mobile, Alvarez was sharp from the first pitch against the Biscuits.  He retired the first seven Biscuits batters of the game, and allowed just two base runners all night.  Mark Thomas doubled in the third inning, and Omar Luna legged out an infield single in the fifth for the only two Montgomery hits.
 
The Suns scored all the runs that Alvarez would need in the home half of the second inning against Biscuits starter Nick Barnese.  Leadoff man Curt Smith was hit by a pitch to start the rally, and Kyle Skipworth singled to left to put runners on first and second.  Paul Gran drove in the first run of the night with a single to right field, with Smith scoring to give the Suns a 1-0 lead.  Barnese then hit Kyle Jensen to load the bases, and with one out walked Donnie Webb to force in Skipworth from third base to increase the Suns advantage to 2-0.  With two outs, Chris Gutierrez hit his 20th double of the season, driving in Jensen and Webb to complete the four-run inning.  Gutierrez finished 1-for-3 to increase his hitting streak to nine games.
 
The Suns have outscored their opponents 122 to 78 in the first two innings this season.  Jacksonville has won eight straight home games, and 10 of the last 13 overall.
 
The two teams played through the rain until the middle of the eighth, when the umpires called for the tarp.  After a 40 minute delay, the game was officially ruled complete, with the Suns earning their third shutout of the series.  The Suns have 11 shutouts this season, with nine of the 11 at the Baseball Grounds.
 
The Suns began the series four games behind the Biscuits in the South.  After completing their first sweep of the season, the Suns are one game up.  Jacksonville outscored Montgomery 25-8 in the five games.  It’s just the second five-game losing streak this season for the Biscuits, who were swept by Birmingham in the first half.  The Suns and Biscuits will square off one more time, with a five-game series at Riverwalk Stadium August 24th-28th.
 
Jose Alvarez (5-6) pitched a two-hitter in the win, allowing just a single and a double.  He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.  Alvarez also tossed a two-hitter against the Tennessee Smokies June 22nd in a 2-0 victory to earn pitcher of the week honors.  Nick Barnese (2-1) allowed four runs on four hits, and lost for the first time this season.  Barnese missed the first half of the season after suffering a shoulder strain during spring training.   
 
The first place Suns begin a five game series with the Mobile BayBears on Wednesday at the Baseball Grounds, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.  LHP Graham Taylor (7-8, 3.81) will start for Jacksonville.  Taylor was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week after blanking the Biscuits in the first game of the last series.

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