Tag Archives: A.J. Ramos

Suns Edge Blue Wahoos

 

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.

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Suns Down Biscuits

 

Suns left fielder Jake Smolinski(above)went 3-for-4 with two RBI’s in 4-2 win over the Montgomery Biscuits. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Suns avoided a sweep with a 4-2 win over the Montgomery Biscuits on Friday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.  The win snapped the Suns four-game home losing streak.
 
The Suns scored four unearned runs in the second inning against Biscuits starter Kyle Lobstein.  After Curt Smith and Kyle Jensen singled, second baseman Tyler Bortnick misplayed a ground ball by Jeff Dominguez with Smith scoring all the way from second base on the error to put the Suns ahead 1-0.  Jose Duarte followed with a double down into the right field corner, with Jensen scoring on the play to increase the lead to 2-0.  Duarte has two RBI’s in his last four games in the starting lineup.  Jake Smolinski added to the lead when he singled up the middle for two RBI’s to give the Suns a 4-0 advantage.
 
The Biscuits scored a run in the third when Ty Morrison grounded out with the bases loaded to make the score 4-1.  Montgomery added another run on a solo home run from catcher Mayo Acosta in the seventh inning.
 
Jake Smolinski went 3-for-4 with two RBI’s to lead the Suns at the plate.  Hak-Ju Lee was the only Biscuits player with more than one hit.  With his two singles, Lee has now reached base safely in 27 straight games.
The Suns had 19 hits in the three game series, 16 singles and three doubles. 
 
Jacksonville manager Andy Barkett was ejected in the first inning for after Biscuits center fielder Ty Morrison appeared to trap a ball hit by Chris Gutierrez, who was initially called safe at second base.  After a discussion between the three umpires, the call was reversed and they ruled Gutierrez out, with Barkett erupting.  After he was ejected, Barkett went to home plate and covered it with dirt.  It’s the fourth time this season that Barkett has been thrown out.
 
James Leverton (1-0) allowed one run on four hits in five and a-third innings for his first win with the Suns.  A.J. Ramos pitched the final two innings to earn his tenth save of the season.  Ramos has a save in each of the Suns last four victories.  Kyle Lobstein (4-5) allowed eight hits and no earned runs in the loss.
 
The Suns begin a four game set in Pensacola on Saturday night with the first pitch slated for 7:30 p.m.  It’s the final meeting of the season between the two teams, with the Suns needing one win to clinch the season series.  The Suns are 13-10 against the Blue Wahoos.

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Suns Single Their Way Past Stars

 

The Suns beat the Stars 3-1 at Joe Davis Stadium in game one of a three-game series. Jacksonville finished with six hits, all singles. Photo Courtesy: Huntsville Stars

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns avoided being swept in a series for the first time this season, with a 3-1 win over the Huntsville Stars Monday night at Joe Davis Stadium.  The season series between the two teams ends with each side winning four of the eight games.
 
The Stars scored their lone run in the third inning against starter Zach Neal.  Josh Prince hit an infield single and took second on a throwing error by third baseman Curt Smith.  When Prince attempted to steal third, Neal’s throw went past Smith with Prince scoring on the Suns second error of the inning.
 
Huntsville starter Hiram Burgos retired the first 12 Suns batters of the game until Curt Smith singled in the fifth inning. 
 
Jake Jefferies led off the sixth inning with a walk, and went to second when Donnie Webb reached on an error.  After a ground out by Jose Duarte moved the runners over a base, Paul Gran drove in Jefferies with a sacrifice fly to tie the game 1-1.  Gran drove in three runs in the three game series.
 
The Suns took a 2-1 lead in the eighth when Kyle Jensen led off with a walk, and pinch hitter Shawn Bowman drove him in with a single to right.  Bowman had at least one hit in all three games against the Stars.
 
 Jacksonville added an insurance run in the ninth.  Jeff Dominguez reached on an error by third baseman T.L. Mittelstaedt, and Jensen drove him in with a RBI single to make the score 3-1.  The win improved the Suns record to 10-33 when they allow the first run of the game. 
 
The Suns had the leadoff man in an inning reach base three times in the last three innings, and all three times he came around to score.  The Suns scored all three of their runs in the game with two outs.  Jacksonville won for just the third time in the last nine road games. 
 
Curt Smith, Kyle Jensen, and Shawn Bowman each had a single in the game.  Jensen and Bowman drove in a run and are tied for the team lead with 42 RBI’s.  Hunter Morris went 2-for-4 on Monday, and in the series finished with three home runs, two triples, five RBI’s, and scored four runs.  Morris leads the Southern League in hits (104), RBI’s (67), doubles (27), and extra-base hits (46).  He’s second in the league in batting average (.314) behind Jackson’s Nick Franklin.
 
In his second straight solid outing, Suns starter Zach Neal allowed five hits and one unearned run over five innings.  Jordan Conley (1-1) allowed one hit in his two innings of work for the win.  A.J. Ramos again showed why he’s the most dominant closer in the league, breezing through the final two innings for his ninth save of the season.  Ramos earned the save in all three of the Suns wins on the road trip.
 
The Suns begin a three game series against the Montgomery Biscuits on Wednesday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

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Suns Split Double Header With Smokies

 

Third baseman Justin Bour(above)drove in two runs in the Smokies 5-1 win in the first game of a double header against the Jacksonville Suns at Smokies Park. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns won two of their three games in Tennessee, splitting a double header against the Smokies on Friday at Smokies Park, dropping the first game 5-1 and winning the night cap 3-1.  The Suns have won both of their series against the Smokies this season.
 
In the first game, Jeff Dominguez drove in Chris Gutierrez with a single in the first inning to put the Suns in front 1-0.  It would be the only run the Suns would score in the game.
 
The Smokies scored five runs on four hits in the third inning against Suns starter Matthew Neil.  Justin Bour and Mike Burgess each drove in two runs in the inning to build a 5-1 lead.
 
Matthew Neil (1-4) pitched four innings and lost his fourth straight decision.  Eric Jokisch (4-1) allowed just one run on five hits to earn the win for the Smokies.
 
Tennessee manager Buddy Bailey picked up his 1,600th career minor league win as a manager.  He’s one of only four managers to reach the mark.
 
The Suns bounced back in the second game of the twin bill, taking a 3-0 lead in the fourth, and winning 3-1.  Paul Gran hit his third home run of the season on the first pitch he saw in the fourth.  It was his second home run in four games.  Jeff Dominguez and Kyle Jensen each drove in a run.
 
Josh Schmidt (3-3) entered the game in the fifth inning and recorded two outs for the win.  Suns starter James Leverton pitched four and a-third innings, allowing one run on four hits.  A.J. Ramos tossed hitless innings for his eighth save of the season.
 
The Suns begin a three game series in Huntsville against the Stars on Saturday night.  The Suns won two of three against the Stars in the first series of the year.
 

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Suns Win On Independence Day

Suns starter Zack Neal(4-6)allowed two runs on seven hits over seven innings. The only runs he allowed were on a two-run home run by Greg Rohan(above)in the first inning. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies

By Steve Kolbe

 
The Jacksonville Suns took a two-run lead into the ninth inning and hung on for a 4-3 win over the Tennessee Smokies on Wednesday night at Smokies Park.  The Suns improved to 31-1 when leading going into the ninth.
 
The Suns provided the fireworks in the first inning against Smokies starter Dallas Beeler.  Chris Gutierrez hit a solo home run to left to put the Suns in front 1-0.  With the blast, Gutierrez established a new career high with four home runs on the year.  It’s the first time since 2008 that he’s had more than two in a season.  With two outs, Kyle Skipworth reached on an error when Beeler dropped a throw at first base.  Jeff Dominguez then drove in Skipworth with a single to left to increase the lead to 2-0.  The Suns have scored at least one run in the first inning 29 times this season, with a record of 19-9 when they cross the plate in the first.
 
Tennessee drew even in the home half of the first against Suns starter Zach Neal.  After Jim Adduci singled, Greg Rohen belted his first Double-A home run, a two-run blast to left field to tie the game 2-2.  Rohen had hit a career-best 12 home runs for the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League before he was promoted to the Smokies on July 2. 
 
In the fourth inning, Jeff Dominguez doubled to the left field corner, and scored when Shawn Bowman drove in his 40th run of the season with a single to center to give the Suns the edge 3-2.  Bowman is the first Suns player this season to reach the 40 RBI mark.
 
Jacksonville tacked on another run in the fifth inning.  Gutierrez led off with an infield single, and Skipworth singled to put runners on the corners with one out.  Jeff Dominguez hit a ground ball to short, with Gutierrez racing home with an important run to give the Suns a 4-2 advantage.   
 
After collecting five hits in the first two innings, the Smokies were held to just two hits from the third until the ninth inning against Suns pitchers Zach Neal and Kyle Kaminska.  In the ninth, Jae-Hoon Ha led off with a single, and stole second base.  Kaminska then struck out Jim Adduci, and enticed Greg Rohen into a ground out, but couldn’t get the final out.   
 
With two away, the Southern League’s top RBI man Justin Bour added to his total by driving in Ha with a single to left to cut the Suns lead to 4-3.  Bour now has 61 runs batted in this season.  Jacksonville summoned closer A.J. Ramos from the bullpen, and he issued just his eighth walk of the season when he put pinch hitter Jaun Apodaca on base.  With runners on first and second, Ramos denied the Smokies the game-tying run when he struck out Mike Brenly to end the game.
 
The Suns have won three straight over the Smokies.  Tennessee manager Buddy Bailey has 1,599 career wins over 24 seasons as a minor league manager.  His next win will make him one of just four active managers with at least 1,600 victories.
 
Left handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen was scheduled to start for the Suns, but the Marlins traded him along with third baseman Matt Dominguez to the Houston Astros in exchange for 36-year-old slugger Carlos Lee.  Rasmussen, the Marlins second round pick in the 2010 draft,  was 4-7 with a 3.90 ERA in 16 starts for Class A Jupiter this season.  Dominguez was batting .234 with seven home runs and 46 RBI’s with Tiple-A New Orleans.  He was the Marlins first round draft pick in 2007.
 
Zach Neal (4-6) was pressed into service and started his ninth game of the season.  Neal allowed two runs on seven hits over seven innings, six singles and a home run.  A.J. Ramos recorded the final out for his seventh save.  Smokies starter Dallas Beeler (3-6) allowed four runs on nine hits in four and a-third innings of work, and lost for the first time in five weeks.
 
Chris Gutierrez finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored.  Jeff Dominguez went 2-for-4 with two RBI’s.  Justin Bour was the only Smokies player with more than one hit.  Eight of Tennessee’s nine hits were singles.  The Suns have had 31 of their 84 games this season decided by a single run, with a 14-17 record.
 
Game two of the series is Thursday night from Smokies Park with the first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m.  RHP Matthew Neil (1-3, 5.53) will start his eighth game of the season for the Suns.  He’s lost his last three decisions.  LHP Eric Jokisch (3-1, 3.25) will take the mound for Tennessee.  He suffered his first loss of the season June 25 at Jacksonville, when he allowed 10 runs on nine hits in a relief appearance in the Suns 11-3 win.
 
 
 

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Suns Power Past The Biscuits In 10 Innings

 

Curt Smith and Kyle Jensen each hit home runs, and the Suns scored three runs in the tenth inning for a 5-2 win over the Montgomery Biscuits at Riverwalk Stadium June 27, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

 By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns hit two home runs to power past the Montgomery Biscuits 5-2 in 10 innings at Riverwalk Stadium on Wednesday night. 
 
The Suns once again jumped on the scoreboard early, when Kyle Jensen led off the second inning blasting his ninth home run of the season to put Jacksonville in front 1-0.   Jensen has hit safely in his last three games.  The Suns offense has started quickly over the last week, scoring in the second inning or earlier in five of the last six games.
 
The Biscuits evened the score 1-1 in the bottom half of the second, when Tyler Bortnick hit his fourth home run of the season off Suns starter Jose Alvarez.  It was just the fourth home run that Alvarez has surrendered in nearly 79 innings of work this season.
 
In the third inning, Jeff Dominguez led off with his eleventh double of the season and scored on Jake Smolinski’s sacrifice fly to left, and the Suns took a 2-1 lead.  With 20 RBI, Smolinski is one of seven Suns players with at least 20 runs batted in this season.
 
Montgomery tied the game in the sixth inning against Suns reliever Kyle Kaminska.  Greg Sexton hit a one out single to left, and Brad Coon doubled to put runners on the corners.   Mayo Acosta then grounded to third, with Sexton beating Shawn Bowman’s throw to the plate to even the score 2-2.
 
The teams combined to leave 21 runners on base in the game, with the Suns stranding nine.  The Suns left the bases loaded twice, and the Biscuits left the bases full three times.  Each team loaded the bases in the ninth inning and failed to score. 
 
Jake Smolinski led off the tenth inning with a walk against Biscuits reliever Kirby Yates.  After Yates retired the next two batters, Shawn Bowman doubled off the wall in left field, with Smolinski scoring to give the Suns a 3-2 edge.   After falling behind in the count 0-2, Curt Smith added some insurance for the Suns by blasting his fifth home run of the season to increase the lead to 5-2. 
 
The win snapped the Suns three-game road losing streak.  Jacksonville improved to 3-2 in extra innings, with all five games played on the road.  The Suns are 3-0 against Montgomery this season when they hit a home run in a game, and 0-4 when they don’t.
 
Shawn Bowman and Jeff Dominguez each had two hits for the Suns.  Curt Smith connected for his fifth home run of the year.  After going without a home run since the first series of the season, Smith has belted four in his last 11 games. 
 
For the Biscuits, Hak-Ju Lee finished 3-for-5 with three singles.  His stolen base in the second inning was the 100th stolen base of the season by Montgomery base runners.  Greg Sexton and Brad Coon each had multi-hit games.
 
Jose Alvarez allowed only one run on seven hits over five innings.  Kyle Kaminska tossed three and two-thirds innings in long relief and allowed a run on four hits.  Suns reliever Corey Madden (2-1) entered the game in the ninth inning with the bases loaded, and struck out Tyler Bortnick to dash the Biscuits hopes.  Madden faced just the one batter in the game to earn his second win of the season.  A.J. Ramos retired the Biscuits in order in the tenth inning for his sixth save of the season.
 
Biscuits starter Kyle Lobstein allowed two runs on two hits in his five innings of work.  Kirby Yates (0-2) allowed two hits in each of his two innings after the Suns had only two hits in the first eight innings of the game.  Yates has two losses this season, both against the Suns.
 
Game three of the series is Thursday night with the first pitch slated for 8:05 p.m. EST.  RHP Bryan Evans (2-5, 3.48) is scheduled to start for the Suns.  RHP Jake Thompson (4-5, 5.26) gets the call for the Biscuits.

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Jose Alvarez Quiets Smokies In 2-0 Win

Suns starter Jose Alvarez allowed just two singles over eight innings in the Suns win over the Tennessee Smokies.  Alvarez and closer A.J. Ramos combined for the two-hitter.  Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns used the combination of dominant pitching by Jose Alvarez, and the long ball, to blank the Tennessee Smokies 2-0 Friday night at the Baseball Grounds. 

With eight shutouts already this season, the Suns have one more than their total from the 2011 campaign.  Each of the last three home victories for the Suns have been by shutout (7-0 and 9-0 over the Jackson Generals; 2-0 over the Tennessee Smokies).  Seven different pitchers have been on the mound for Jacksonville shutout wins this season, with Graham Taylor involved in two. 

The Suns jumped out to an early lead in the first inning against Smokies starter Dae-Eun Rhee.  On the second pitch that he saw, Suns leadoff man Donnie Webb hit his fourth home run of the season to give Jacksonville a 1-0 edge.  Webb’s blast landed in the last row of seats in right field, and nearly cleared the stands.  It was the second straight night that the Suns have hit a home run in the first inning.  Webb has now smashed three home runs in his last 11 games in the starting lineup. 

A day after Chris Gutierrez had his 16-game hit streak end, he found his power swing in the fifth inning on Friday night.  His solo home run to left field increased the Suns lead to 2-0.  Gutierrez has hit both of his round trippers in front of the home fans this season. 

The two-run advantage was more than enough for Suns starter Jose Alvarez, who rebounded from his shortest outing of the season June 14th at Mississippi (3.1 IP, six runs on eight hits).  The last time that Alvarez pitched at the Baseball Grounds on June 8th, he tossed a season-high eight innings and allowed just one run on four hits and deserved a better fate.  The Suns were shutout 1-0 by Jackson Generals starter Danny Hultzen on that night.

Alvarez was rewarded for his efforts on Friday against Tennessee, winning for the first time since May 1st to improve to 2-4 on the season.  He allowed just two singles over eight innings, walked only one and struck out five.  From the fourth inning to the eighth inning, Alvarez retired 14 straight batters.  In his last three starts at the Baseball Grounds, Alvarez has surrendered only three runs on 10 hits in 21 innings of work.  With Alvarez at the 99 pitch mark (61 for strikes), the Suns summoned A.J. Ramos to pitch the ninth inning, and he slammed the door on the Smokies to ear his fifth save of the season. 

Pitching on eight days rest, Tennessee starter Dae-Eun Rhee suffered the loss to drop to 4-3 on the season.  He tossed seven innings, giving up two runs on seven hits.  Rhee has allowed the second-most runs (55) of any pitcher in the Southern League.

The Suns improved to 27-8 when scoring the first run of the game.  Jacksonville has scored at least one run in the first inning 20 times this season, with a record of 16-4 when they cross the plate in the first. 

Game three of the series in Saturday night at the Baseball Grounds with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m.  RHP Bryan Evans (2-4, 2.90 ERA) will start his 14th game of the season for the Suns.  Evans is third in the Southern League with his 2.90 ERA.  For the Smokies, RHP Dallas Beeler (2-5, 4.32 ERA) gets the nod for his 15th start of the season.

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Evans Leads Suns Past Braves

By Steve Kolbe

A day after allowing a season-high 13 runs, the Jacksonville Suns rebounded for a 6-1 win over the Braves at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi on Friday night. 

The Suns broke the ice in the first inning against Braves starter Luis Avilan.  Donnie Webb led off the inning with a walk, and Jake Smolinski reached on a throwing error by third baseman Joe Terdoslavich, with Webb advancing to third on the play.  Avilan then threw his fourth wild pitch of the season, with Webb scoring to give the Suns a 1-0 advantage.  The Suns have scored at least one run in the first inning in 18 games this season, and are 15-3 in those games.  Jacksonville is now 26-6 when crossing the plate first. 

In the third inning, Webb found himself in the middle of the offense again when he led off with a single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Shawn Bowman to increase the Suns lead to 2-0.   

Suns starter Bryan Evans baffled the Braves throughout the night, and after allowing a single in the first inning he retired the next 16 batters he faced until the seventh inning.  In the seventh, Keenan Wiley led off with a bunt single and went to second on a sacrifice bunt.  With two outs, Tim Smith put the Braves on the board with a RBI single, with Wiley scoring to cut the Suns lead to 2-1.  Kyle Kaminska took over for Evans to record the final out of the inning. 

In the eighth inning, the Suns scored four runs against reliever Brett Cammons, all with two outs.  Jake Smolinksi walked and scored when Shawn Bowman hit his team-leading 16th double of the season, and the lead was 3-1.  Kyle Jensen extended the inning when he reached base on an infield single, with Smolinski moving around to third to put runners on the corners.  Curt Smith delivered the big hit in the inning, with a towering three-run home run to left field to pad the Suns lead to 6-1.  After going without a round tripper since the first series of the year, Smith has now hit two home runs in his last four games. 

The Suns have won seven of their last 10 road games, and improved to 19-14 away from home this season.  Jacksonville has scored at least five runs in six of their last seven road wins.  The Suns won for just the second time this season on Friday (2-9).  The Braves have lost six of their last eight games overall.  Mississippi has won two games in a row only once in the last 22 games. 

Suns shortstop Chris Gutierrez extended his hit streak to 14 games with a single in the third inning.  He hasn’t gone hitless since May 30th.  Mississippi center fielder Todd Cunningham also increased his hit streak to 14 consecutive games with a single in the first.  Shawn Bowman drove in two runs for the Suns, and now leads the team with 32 runs batted in.  Curt Smith has hit two three-run home runs in the last week, and he now has 27 runs batted in this season. 

Bryan Evans entered the game among the top five pitchers in the league in lowest batting average against.  He had a dominant performance, pitching six and two-thirds innings and allowing one run on three hits to improve his record to 2-4.  He has won his last two decisions.  Evans struck out a season-high eight batters, including striking out the side in the second inning and retiring the side in the third on just nine pitches.  Evans retired 16 Braves in a row after allowing a single in the first inning.  Kyle Kaminska and A.J. Ramos combined to pitch the final two and a-third innings. 

Braves starter Luis Avilan pitched a season-high six innings, allowing just two hits and one earned run, but saw his record fall to 1-5 on the season.

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Suns Win Series Opener Over Braves

 

The Suns topped the Mississippi Braves 6-3 in the first meeting of the season between the two teams June 13, 2012 at Trustmark Park. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe 

Shortstop Chris Gutierrez increased his hit streak to a dozen games, and the Suns claimed game one of their final series of the first half, with a 6-3 win over the Mississippi Braves on Wednesday night at Trustmark Park.
 
Jacksonville took the lead in the second inning against Braves starter Zeke Spruill.  With one out, Kyle Jensen hit his 11th double of the season, and Kyle Skipworth singled to center behind him to give the Suns a 1-0 lead.  The Suns improved to 25-4 this season when scoring the first run of the game.
 
In the bottom of the second, the Braves drew even on three singles.  After base hits by Todd Cunningham and Joe Leonard put runners on the corners against Suns righty Omar Poveda, a two-out base knock by Barrett Kleinknecht drove in Cunningham to tie the game 1-1.
 
The Suns reclaimed the lead in the third inning helped by some suspect defense.  After Chris Gutierrez doubled and advanced to third on a throwing error by left fielder Tim Smith, Jake Smolinski plated Gutierrez with a ground out, and the Suns had a 2-1 advantage.
 
Once again, Mississippi came right back in the home half of the inning with two extra base hits against Poveda.  Keenan Wiley led off the inning when he tripled off the wall in right field.  A batter later, Joe Terdoslavich doubled to right, with Wiley cruising home to even the score 2-2.
 
In the fourth, Joe Leonard gave the Braves their only lead of the night when he led off the inning smashing his third home run of the season over the right field wall to give Mississippi at 3-2 edge.  The Braves have hit just 22 round trippers this season. 
 
Jacksonville took advantage of two errors in the sixth inning to take the lead for good.  Kyle Jensen walked and Kyle Skipworth singled to put runners on first and third with one out.  Then the Braves came unglued.  Jeff Dominguez hit a grounder that first baseman Joe Terdoslavich couldn’t handle, with Jensen scoring from third base on the miscue to tie the game 3-3.  Skipworth was on the move from first and never stopped, rumbling all the way around to score on a throwing error by right fielder Keenan Wiley, and the Suns were back in front 4-3.
 

The Suns score two insurance runs in the ninth inning against relief pitcher Andrew Russell.  With one out, Paul Gran and Jose Duarte both singled  to put runners on the corners.  Donnie Webb hit a deep fly ball to right field, with Gran scoring on the sacrifice to pad the lead to 5-3.  Gutierrez then completed another big night with his second double of the game, driving in Duarte from third and giving the Suns a comfortable 6-3 lead.  The Suns are 17-0 this season when scoring six or more runs in a game.

For the Suns, Chris Gutierrez finished 2-for-5, drove in a run and also scored.  He extended his hit streak to 12 games with his eighth multi-hit game of the season.  Kyle Skipworth went 3-for-4, with a run scored, and added his 29th RBI of the year.  It’s the third time this season that Skipworth has had three or more hits in a game.  Paul Gran had two singles for his sixth multi-hit game.  Joe Leonard provided most of the offense for the Braves, collecting three of the their seven hits. 

Omar Poveda won his third straight decision to improve to 6-2.  He pitched six and two-thirds innings, allowing three runs on six hits.   Poveda hasn’t lost since being shuffled back to first in the Suns pitching rotation.  Suns All-Star A.J. Ramos entered the game with two outs in the eighth inning, and slammed the door on the Braves the rest of the way for his fourth save of the season. 

Mississippi starter Zeke Spruill suffered the loss to drop to 5-6 on the season.  He allowed four runs, but only one earned, on six hits in his seven innings of work.  He was the victim of the shaky fielding behind him.  Spruill matched his season high by striking out eight Suns batters.

The Suns improved their road record to 18-13.  Overall, Jacksonville has won five of the last seven games.  The Braves have now dropped nine of their last 12, and will finish last in the South Division.

Game two of the series is Thursday from Trustmark Park with the first pitch scheduled for 7:00 p.m. local time.  The Suns will hand the ball to LHP Jose Alvarez (1-3, 4.19) for his 12th start of the season.  The Braves send RHP Gary Moran (1-5, 3.50) to the mound for his 10th start of the year.

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Filed under Ahead Of The Curve, Southern League News

Suns Stop Generals 4-2

Omar Poveda struck out a season-high eight batters in the Suns 4-2 win over the Jackson Generals June 7, 2012 at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe 

After a 42 minute rain delay, the Jacksonville Suns won their first meeting of the season against the Jackson Generals 4-2 at the Baseball Grounds on Thursday night.  Jackson entered the game winners of eight of their last 10 games, and the Generals 37 victories are the most in the Southern League.  

The Generals broke the ice in the top of the first inning against Suns starter Omar Poveda.  After a lead off single by Denny Almonte and a force out that left Nick Franklin on first base, catcher Jesus Sucre put  Jackson on top 1-0 with a RBI single to center field. 

The lead lasted for just an inning, with the Suns getting to Generals starting pitcher Taijuan Walker in the home half of the second.  After Kyle Skipworth and Paul Gran were retired, Ryan Patterson started a two-out rally with a single.  Jose Duarte singled behind him, with Patterson moving to third base and Duarte advancing to second on a throwing error.  Designated hitter Curt Smith drove in both base runners with the third straight single in the inning to put the Suns ahead 2-1. 

Jacksonville tacked on two more in the third inning against Walker.  Chris Gutierrez and Shawn Bowman singled, and Paul Gran walked to load the bases.  This season the Suns had been 3-for-9 as a team with the bases loaded, and Ryan Patterson alone was 0-for-5.  With two outs, Patterson wasn’t denied this time, driving a single to center field with Gutierrez and Bowman scoring to increase the lead to 4-1. 

The Generals scored their final run of the night in the sixth inning, a lead off home run by Joe Dunigan against Poveda to cut the lead to 4-2, but that would be the final run of the night.  Dunigan’s solo blast to left field tied him with Denny Almonte for the Generals team lead with nine round trippers.  Jackson leads the Southern League with 46 home runs.

The Suns improved their record to 12-19 at the Baseball Grounds, while the Generals are now 17-14 on the road.  Jacksonville is 7-27 when allowing the first run of the game, and Jackson is now  27-7 when crossing the plate first. 

The bottom third of the Suns batting order accounted for all the offense in the win, going 7-for-10 with four runs batted in and two runs scored.  Ryan Patterson went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.  Curt Smith and Jose Duarte each finished 2-for-3.  Smith drove in two and now has 20 runs batted in this season.  Duarte recorded his first multi-hit game of the year.  The Suns collected nine hits, all singles. 

Suns starter Omar Poveda pitched a season-high seven innings to improve his record to 5-2.  He allowed two runs on five hits, and struck out a season-high eight batters.  Poveda has won two straight decisions for the first time since April, when he started the season 2-0.  Kyle Kaminska and A.J. Ramos combined to pitch two innings of scoreless baseball, with Ramos closing the door in the ninth for his third save of the season. 

Generals starter Taijuan Walker was hit in his throwing arm when Donnie Webb, the Suns first batter of the game, sent a hard ground ball back up the middle in the first inning.  While that may or may not have factored in the 19-year-old’s early struggles, he tossed his his second-shortest outing of the season, allowing four runs on six hits in just three innings of work.  Walker had allowed a total of 16 runs this season, and Thursday’s loss to the Suns was the first time in his 11 starts that he surrendered more than two runs in a game.   

Game two of the series is Friday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05PM.  In a match up of left handers, Jose Alvarez (1-2, 4.64) will start for the 11th time this season for the Suns.  Danny Hultzen (6-3, 1.44) will take the mound for his 12th start of the season.  Hultzen ranks first in the league in ERA at 1.44, and he ranks second in strikeouts with 67.

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Filed under Ahead Of The Curve, Southern League News