Ty Morrison finished a single shy of the cycle, drove in three runs and scored four others in the Biscuits 8-6 win over the Jacksonville Suns on June 29, 2012 at Riverwalk Stadium. Photo Courtesy: Montgomery Biscuits
By Steve Kolbe
The Jacksonville Suns scored three runs in the first inning, but the Montgomery Biscuits tied their season high with 14 hits on the way to an 8-6 win at Riverwalk Stadium on Friday night. The Biscuits have reached double-digit hits in all four games of the series, and have out hit the Suns by a total 49-35.
The Suns started quickly when Biscuits starter Joe Cruz struggled with his control, allowing the first four batters to reach base in the opening inning. Donnie Webb walked on four pitches, Chris Guierrez singled, and Jake Smolinski walked to load the bases before Cruz recorded an out. Kyle Jensen drew a walk on four straight pitches, forcing in Webb to put the Suns up 1-0. Jensen increased his team-leading RBI total to 38, with 10 of them coming with the bases loaded. Kyle Skipworth knocked in Gutierrez from third with a ground out to the right side to make the score 2-0. After Paul Gran popped out, Jake Jefferies hit a ground ball to first baseman Michael Sheridan that went under his glove and into right field, with Smolinski scoring on the error to build the Suns lead to 3-0. The Suns have scored first in all four games of the series but have just one win.
Montgomery countered in the bottom of the first against Suns starter Graham Taylor. Leadoff man Hak-Ju Lee singled to center on a two strike pitch and Ty Morrison doubled down the third base line, also on a two strike pitch, to put runners on second and third with no outs. Ryan Garko drove in Lee from third with a sacrifice fly, and Tyler Bortnick plated Morrison with a single up the middle and the Suns lead was cut to 3-2. Hak-Ju Lee has had a lead off hit in all four games in the series for the Biscuits.
Cruz entered the game with the second-most walks in the league, and struggled to find the plate again in the second when he walked Jeff Dominguez and Donnie Web. Cruz then threw a wild pitch, and catcher Mark Thomas added to the trouble when his throw to third base went into left field, with Dominguez scoring to increase the Suns advantage to 4-2. In the first two innings, Jacksonville scored four runs on just one hit, five walks, a wild pitch, and an error.
The Biscuits began their comeback in the third inning when Ty Morrison led off with a walk and Omar Luna doubled down the third base line, with Morrison motoring all the way around from first to cut the lead to 4-3.
In the fourth inning, Montgomery took the lead for good by scoring three runs on four hits against Taylor, all with two outs. Brett Nommensen singled and went to second on a ground out. Hak-Ju Lee then drove in Nommensen with a single to right field to tie the game 4-4. Ty Morrison continued his big night when he hit a two-run home run over the right field fence to give Montgomery a 6-4 edge. It was Morrison’s second round tripper of the season, and the Biscuits third home run in the last three games.
With Suns reliever Alan Oaks on the mound in the sixth the Biscuits scored two important runs, again with two outs. Lee singled and scored when Morrison tripled into the gap in left-center and it was 7-4 Biscuits. Omar Luna came through with a two-out single, with Morrison coasting across the plate to make the score 8-4. Montgomery has rallied to tie or take the lead after falling behind in all four games in this series.
With Biscuits closer Adam Liberatore on the hill in the ninth, Paul Gran singled and Curt Smith hit a two-run home run to make it 8-6, but that’s as close as the Suns would get. Smith has hit three home runs in his last five games. The Suns as a team have hit 14 round trippers in the last 13 games.
Montgomery has won five of the last six games, while the Suns have dropped seven of their last 11 contests. Friday night’s not alright, with Jacksonville just 3-10 in games played on Friday.
Curt Smith finished 3-for-5 with two RBI and Jake Smolinski was 2-for-4. The Suns finished with seven hits, six of them singles, and until the ninth didn’t have more than one hit in any of the first eight innings of the game. The Suns tied their season high by walking 10 times, with Donnie Webb and Kyle Jensen each issued three free passes.
The top three batters in the Biscuits lineup combined for nine of the 14 hits on the night. Hak-Ju Lee, Ty Morrison, and Omar Luna each finished with three hits apiece. Lee extended his hit streak to 10 games. Morrison had a double, triple, and a home run to finish a single away from the cycle. Morrison accounted for seven of the Biscuits eight runs, scoring four times and driving in three others. Tyler Bortnick singled in the first inning to extend his hit streak to 15 games, one away from tying for the longest streak in the Southern League this season (Chris Gutierrez and Henry Rodriguez). Every player except left fielder Kyeong Kang (0-for-4) reached base at least once in the game for Montgomery.
Graham Taylor (4-7) allowed six runs on 10 hits over five innings and has lost three of his last four decisions. Montgomery had been tough on lefties, with a record of 17-7 against southpaws this season. Taylor fell to 1-4 in eight road starts this season, with his lone win April 23 at Mobile. Friday’s game was the fourth time this season that Taylor has surrendered six or more runs in an outing. Biscuits starter Joe Cruz (6-6) allowed four runs on four hits and earned the win despite walking seven batters in five innings. Cruz improved to 4-1 at home, and has won four straight decisions overall after winning just twice in his first 10 starts of the season.
The series finale is Saturday night from Riverwalk Stadium with the first pitch set for 8:05 p.m. RHP Matthew Neil (1-2, 5.05) gets the nod for the Suns. RHP Nick Barnese (0-0, 4.50) will make his second start of the season for the Biscuits.