Tag Archives: Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville

Slow Start Sinks Suns In Loss To Barons

The Barons snapped a four-game losing streak with an 11-7 win over the Jacksovnille Suns at the Baseball Grounds on August 22, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Birmingham Barons

By Steve Kolbe

The Birmingham Barons scored all of their runs in the first five innings and ended the Suns three-game winning streak, with an 11-7 victory on Wednesday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

The Barons sent 10 men to the plate in the top of the first, scoring six runs on six hits against Suns starter Bryan Evans to take a 6-0 lead. It’s the most runs the Suns have allowed in the first inning of a game this season.

Ben Lasater hit a two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the first to put the Suns on the scoreboard and make the score 6-2. It was Lasater’s first home run of the season with the Suns. After the teams traded runs in the second inning, the Suns cut the lead to 7-5 in the home half of the third when Kyle Jensen connected for his 21st home run of the season, a two-run blast to left-center. Jensen has hit a home run in three straight games.

The Barons scored twice in the fourth against Evans to increase the lead to 9-5.  Jake Oester drove in a run with a bases loaded single, and Luis Sierra lifted a sacrifice fly to center.

The long ball provided the runs for both clubs in the fifth.  Andy Wilkins hit a two-run home run for the Barons to pad the lead to 11-5. Kyle Skipworth then hit his 19th homer of the year in the bottom of the inning to make it an 11-7 contest. The final four innings of the game were scoreless.

The Barons finished with 18 hits, the most that the Suns have allowed in a game this season. Every player for the Barons had at least one hit, and every player in the game reached base at least once.

Bryan Evans (5-8) allowed nine runs on 11 hits in 3.1 innings in the loss. Leroy Hunt (2-3) pitched three scoreless innings for the Barons in the win.

The final home game of the regular season is Thursday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, with the first pitch slated for 7:35 PM. LHP Brian Flynn (2-0) will take the mound for the Suns. RHP Nick McCully (1-3, 5.17) will start for the Barons.

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Suns Take Two From Barons

 

Suns starter Graham Taylor (above left)threw three-hit complete game to lead Jacksonville past Birmingham 5-0 in game one. Keyle Jensen(above right)hit his 20th home run of the season in the Suns 5-3 comeback win in the night cap at the Baseball Grounds August 21, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns swept a double-header from the Birmingham Barons, winning game one 5-0 with a dominant performance from starter Graham Taylor, and the Suns turned up the power to claim the night cap 5-3.  It’s the first time this season that the Suns have swept both games of a twin bill.
 
The Suns broke the ice in game one in the second inning against Barons starter Nestor Molina.  Kyle Jensen led off the inning with his 19th home run of the season to put the Suns in front 1-0.  The Suns improved their record to 47-22 when scoring the first run of the game.
 
The Suns were turned away by Molina after loading the bases with no outs in the fifth, but Jacksonville added some insurance in the home half of the sixth,  loading the bases for a second straight inning.   Singles by Ben Lasater and Kyle Skipworth and a walk by Kyle Jensen loaded the bases with no outs.  Jake Jefferies delivered a RBI-single with Lasater cruising home to increase the Suns lead to 2-0.  The Barons summoned Salvador Sanchez from the bullpen, and he walked Danny Pertusati on four pitches to force in Skipworth from third to make the score 3-0.  After Jensen hustled home on a wild pitch to pad the lead to 4-0, Dallas Poulk capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly plating Jefferies for the 5-0 final.
 
Kyle Skipworth and Jake Jefferies each finished 2-for-3 for the Suns.  Jacksonville has 13 shutouts this season, with 11 of them tossed at the Baseball Grounds.   The Barons were blanked for the seventh time this season.
 
Taylor (8-10) allowed just three singles for the complete game seven-inning win.  In his previous start this season against the Barons, Taylor allowed a season-high 12 hits in an 8-3 loss May 4th at Hoover, Alabama.  The win Tuesday was Taylor’s first complete game of the season.  Another Suns lefty, Jose Alvarez, is tied for the league lead with three complete games.  Nestor Molina (4-10) surrendered five runs on nine hits in the loss.   Molina won three of his first five starts this season, but has just one victory in his last 15 outings.
 
The Suns capped of the night in come-from-behind fashion, falling behind the Barons 3-0 in the second game.  James Leverton retired the first 11 batters he faced, but with two outs in the top of the fourth the Barons put together a two-out rally.  Trayce Thompson walked and scored when Andy Wilkins doubled to the gap in left center to give the Barons a 1-0 lead.  Brady Shoemaker followed with a double to right-center, with Wilkins scoring to increase the lead to 2-0.  Shoemaker added a RBI-single in the sixth inning to hand Birmingham a 3-0 cushion.
 
The Suns powered their way to the comeback in the home half of the sixth against Barons starter Spencer Arroyo, hitting three home runs.  Leadoff man Jake Smolinski smashed the first pitch he saw over the left field wall to put the Suns on the board.  Smolinski has hit all six of his homers in the second half of the season.  After Chris Gutierrez walked and Zack Cox singled, Kyle Jensen cleared the bases with his second home run of the double header to put the Suns in front to stay 4-3.  Jensen is one of only five players in the Southern League with 20 or more round trippers.  Kyle Skipworth made it back-to-back home runs in the inning, when he belted his 18th home run of the season to help the Suns claim the night cap 5-3.   Skipworth also homered against the Barons May 5th.
 
The Suns have won six of their eight games against the Barons this season.  With a record of 21-12 at home in the second half, the Suns have more wins than any team in the league on their home turf.  Jacksonville is 10-3 in the last 13 games at the Baseball Grounds, with five of the victories by shutout.  
 
Jake Smolinski went 2-for-3 for his 23rd multi-hit game of the season.  Kyle Jensen has belted six three-run home runs this season, with half of them in the month of August.   Jensen has left the yard five times in the last six games.
 
Collin Cargill (1-0) earned his first win with the Suns.  Spencer Arroyo (6-4) allowed five runs on seven hits in the loss.  Arroyo allowed three home runs in the sixth inning on Tuesday, after giving up just four all season.
 
Game four of the series is Wednesday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM.  RHP Bryan Evans (5-7, 4.31) will start for the Suns.  RHP Jacob Petricka (2-2, 3.59) takes the mound for the Barons.
 
 
 
 
 

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Suns Roll Past Barons 13-7

The Jacksonville Suns tied their season-high with 15 hits in a 13-7 win over the Birmingham Barons at the Baseball Grounds August 19, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Birmingham Barons

 By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns snapped their season-high seven-game losing streak, defeating the Birmingham Barons 13-7 on Sunday night at the Baseball Grounds.  It’s the ninth time the Suns have scored 10 or more runs in a game, with six of the offensive explosions at home. 
 
The Barons took the lead in the first inning against Suns starter Matthew Neil.  Tyler Saladino led off with a double, and Carlos Sanchez followed with a double to left-center, with the speedy Saladino scoring all the way from first to put Birmingham up 1-0.  The Barons entered the game with a record of 40-20 when scoring the first run of the game.
 
The Suns broke the ice against Barons starting pitcher Andre Rienzo in the bottom of the fourth.  After retiring the first 10 batters of the game, Rienzo surrendered a single to Chris Gutierrez with one out in the fourth.  Zack Cox then got the green light on a 3-0 pitch and delivered with a double to center field, with Guiterrez scoring from first to even the score 1-1.  Cox has driven in 11 runs in 13 games with the Suns after being acquired by Miami from St. Louis.
 
Birmingham took the lead in the sixth against Neil, with the first four batters in the inning all reaching base.  Leadoff hitter Trayce Thompson jumped on the first pitch he saw and belted a solo home run to left to put the Barons up 2-1.  Since being promoted from Class-A Winston-Salem on August 13th, Thompson has nine hits including his first two Double-A  home runs.  It was the 10th round tripper that Neil has surrendered this season.  Neil walked both Andy Wilkins and Seth Loman, and a single by Brady Showemaker loaded the bases  with no outs.  Jose Martinez cashed in with a double to right field, with both Wilkins and Shoemaker racing around to score to increase the Barons lead to 4-1.
 
The Suns sent 13 men to the plate in the home half of the sixth, scoring a season-high eight runs on eight hits in the inning to take a 9-4 lead.  Barons reliever Leroy Hunt was touched for four runs on five hits and didn’t retire a batter in the inning.  With Chris Gutierrez and Zach Cox aboard, Kyle Jensen drove in the first two runs in the inning with his second triple of the season.  Gutierrez plated a pair of runs his second time at bat with his 23rd double of the year.   Jake Smolinski, Ben Lasater, Aaron Dudley, and Dallas Poulk each drove in a run.  Jacksonville batted around in an inning for the 13th time this season.
 
The Suns scored all eight of their runs in the sixth inning with two outs.  The Suns previous high for most runs in an inning was seven (April 23rd vs. Mobile; June 25th vs. Tennessee; July 31st @ Mobile).   
 
Birmingham used the long ball in the seventh against Suns reliever Grant Dayton to inch closer.  Andy Wilkins smashed a two-run home run, and Seth Loman added a solo blast to cut the Suns lead to 9-7.  The duo share the team lead with 16 home runs each. 
 
In the home half of the seventh, Zack Cox led off with a walk and scored when Kyle Skipworth just missed a home run, hitting a double off the wall in the deepest part of the ball park to pad the Suns lead to 1-7.  Jacksonville tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the eighth for the 13-7 final.  The Suns improved to 16-43 when allowing the first run of the game.
 
The Suns ended their season-high seven game losing streak, and are now just three games behind the Montgomery Biscuits in the pennant race in the South Division.  The Birmingham Barons have lost seven of their last 10 games.
 
Jacksonville tied a season-high with 15 hits in the game (August 6th vs. Montgomery).  The Suns managed a triple, three doubles, and 11 singles on the night.  Every player in the Suns lineup had at least one hit and drove in at least one run.  Kyle Jensen and Chris Gutierrez each crossed the plate three times.  Chris Gutierrez, Zack Cox, Ben Lasater, Aaron Dudley, Donnie Webb, and Dallas Poulk each collected two hits in the game.  Poulk finished with three RBI’s, with Gutierrez and Jensen each driving in a pair of runs.
 
Grant Dayton (1-0) allowed three runs on three hits over an inning and a-third to record his first win with the Suns.  Andre Rienzo (4-2) surrendered five runs on five hits in the loss.  He had allowed a total of six earned runs over 19 innings in his previous three starts.  
 
Game two of the series is Monday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM from the Baseball Grounds.  LHP Graham Taylor (7-10, 4.11) will take the mound for the 24th time this season for the Suns.  RHP Nestor Molina (4-9, 4.70) will start his 19th game for the Barons.

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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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Suns Win Fourth Straight Over Biscuits; Tie For Division Lead

Jake Smolinski(above left)and Curt Smith (above right)combined to go 5-for-6 with five RBI’s and five runs scored in the Suns 11-7 win over the Montgomery Biscuits August 6, 2012 at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

 
The Jacksonville Suns moved into a tie for first place in the South Division of the Southern League, collecting a season-high 15 hits in an 11-7 win over the Montgomery Biscuits on Monday night at the Baseball Grounds.  The Suns began the five game series trailing the Biscuits by four games in the standings. 
 
The Biscuits took the lead in the top of the third inning against Suns starter Brian Flynn.  Mark Thomas legged out an infield single to start the inning and went to second on a pass ball.  With one out, Hak-Ju Lee singled to left field with Thomas scoring from second to put Montgomery in front 1-0.  The Biscuits scored the first run for the second straight game, with Lee providing the RBI both times.  After a single by Ty Morrison put runners on first and third, Mikie Mahtook plated Lee from third with a ground out and the Biscuits were up 2-0. 
 
The Suns evened the score 2-2 in the home half of the third against Biscuits starter Matt Buschmann.  Donnie Webb walked to set up Jake Smolinski, who hit a two-run home run to left-center.  Smolinski entered the season with seven career home runs.  He has hit all five of his homers this season in the last 44 games. 
 
The two teams traded runs in the fourth inning.  Michael Sheridan drove in a run with a RBI double for the Biscuits in the top half of the inning, and Curt Smith countered with a solo home run for the Suns in the home half.  Smith has hit nine home runs this season, with two of them in his last three games in the starting lineup.  The Suns have belted at least two home runs in five of the last nine games, and now have a total of 82 round trippers on the season.
 
Jacksonville batted around in the fifth, scoring five times on four hits to break the game open.  Chris Gutierrez and Zach Cox each drove in a run with a single to give the Suns a 5-3 lead.  Curt Smith plated two more runs with a double, with both Gutierrez and Cox crossing the plate to increase the advantage to 7-3.  An error by third baseman Greg Sexton on a ground ball by Paul Gran then allowed Smith to score for an 8-3 Suns edge.
 
In the sixth inning, after singles by Jake Jefferies and Jake Smolinski, Zach Cox hit a fly ball with left fielder Shawn O’Malley unable to make the catch by the foul line,  going head-over-heels onto the lawn in foul ground, with the ball falling to the ground.  The triple drove in both Smolinski and Jefferies to give the Suns a comfortable 10-3 lead.
 
The Suns and Biscuits again traded runs in the seventh inning.  After the Biscuits loaded the bases on three straight singles against Suns reliever Rett Varner, Ty Morrison drove in his 32nd run of the season for Montgomery with a ground out to cut the lead to 10-4.  Donnie Webb got the run back for the Suns with a double in the home half of the inning, with Paul Gran scoring to make it 11-4 Jacksonville.
 
With Jordan Conley on in relief, the Biscuits made it interesting in the eighth.  Greg Sexton hit a solo home run and Derek Dietrich smashed a two-run home run to cut the Suns lead to 11-7.  After a double by Mark Thomas, left fielder Shawn O’Malley hit a ball deep to right field, with Suns right fielder Danny Pertusati leaping up at the wall to commit highway robbery and deny O’Malley the home run.  A.J. Ramos entered the game to record the final out of the eighth inning, and also pitched the ninth.
 
The Suns and Biscuits combined for 29 hits in the game.  17 of the 18 hitters  in the game with the exception of Suns catcher Kyle Skipworth (0-for-5) had at least one hit.  The top four batters in the Suns lineup combined to finish 8-for-16 with nine RBI’s and seven runs scored.  Eight players in the lineup had at least one of the Suns season-high 15 hits.  Curt Smith went 3-for-4 with three RBI’s.  Jake Smolinski, Chris Gutierrez, Paul Gran, and Jake Jefferies each had two hits.  In his Suns debut, Zach Cox was 2-for-5 with a triple, three RBI’s, and a run scored.  Every player in the Biscuits lineup had at least one hit.  Mark Thomas, Greg Sexton, Omar Luna, and Michael Sheridan each had a multi-hit game for the Biscuits.  Jacksonville has outscored Montgomery 21-8 in the series.
 
Brian Flynn (2-0) allowed three runs on six hits to win his second straight start.  Flynn, a 6-8 left hander, was acquired by the Marlins from the Tigers just before the trade deadline last week.  Matt Buschmann (5-7) surrendered eight runs on eight hits in the loss.  He shutout the Suns 1-0 on May 11th, allowing just one hit over six innings.
 
The Suns have won seven straight games at the Baseball grounds, outscoring opponents 41-21.  It’s the longest home winning streak for the Suns since May 2-14, 2010, when they also won seven in a row.
 
The Suns look to take sole possession of first place with a win on Tuesday.  Jacksonville hasn’t been alone at the top of the division since May 4th in the first half of the season.  The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. from the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.  LHP Jose Alvarez (4-6, 3.74) takes the mound for the Suns.  RHP Nick Barnese (2-0, 4.30) will try to avoid the sweep for the Biscuits. 

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