Tag Archives: Donnie Webb

Smokies Defeat Suns 9-2

Tennessee third baseman Greg Rohan(above)hits one of the Smokies three home runs in a 9-2 win over the Jacksonville Suns July 24, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies

 By Steve Kolbe

The Tennessee Smokies hit three home runs in a 9-2 win over the Suns on Tuesday night in the first of a five game series at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
 
The Suns jumped in front 1-0 in the second inning against Smokies starter Eric Jokisch.  Paul Gran led off with his third triple of the season, and scored when Donnie Webb bunted for a base hit to drive in his 32nd run of the year.  The Suns fell to 37-16 when scoring the first run of the game. 
 
The Smokies tied the game 1-1 in the top of the third against Suns starter Matthew Neil, when Junior Lake belted his fifth home run of the season.  Tennessee added a run in the fifth when Nelson Perez led off with a single, and scored on Lake’s double to right-center to put the Smokies ahead for good at 2-1. 
 
Suns reliever James Leverton entered the game in the sixth inning, and after Mike Burgess was hit by a pitch, Mike Brenly hit a two-run blast to increase the Smokies lead to 4-1.  Leverton has allowed four home runs in his last two appearances.
 
The Smokies doubled the lead in the eighth inning when they batted around and scored four more runs against Suns relief pitcher Jon Link.  Justin Bour singled and Greg Rohan doubled to put runners on second and third.  Mike Burgess was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs.  With the infield in, Mike Brenly hit the ball hard to shortstop Chris Gutierrez, with the ball going into the outfield and two runs crossing the plate on the error to pad the Smokies lead to 6-1.  Nelson Perez drove in a run with a double, and Logan Watkins added an RBI-single and the score was 8-1 Tennessee.  The first five batters in the inning reached base. 
 
Jeff Dominguez led off the eighth inning with a walk, and scored on a throwing error by second baseman Logan Watkins for the Suns final run of the night to make the score 8-2.  Greg Rohan launched a solo home run in the ninth inning for the Smokies to make the final 9-2.  The nine runs are the most that the Smokies have scored in a game this season against the Suns.
 
Suns starter Matthew Neil (1-6) allowed two runs on six hits in his five innings of work and has now lost six straight decisions.  Eric Jokisch (6-2) surrendered one run on four hits over five innings for the win.  The Smokies have won two straight games after a season-high six game losing streak.
 
Game two of the series is Wednesday afternoon with the first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m.  RHP Bryan Evans (3-6, 3.99) will start for the Suns.  RHP Dallas Beeler (4-6, 4.11) takes the mound for the Smokies.
 

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Taylor Pitches Suns Past Braves

Suns starter Graham Taylor(above)allowed one run in seven innings of work to help Jacksonville edge the Mississippi Braves 2-1 at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe 

 
The Jacksonville Suns (15-15) reached the .500 mark for the first time since the eighth game of the second half, slipping past the Mississippi Braves 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at the Baseball Grounds.
 
Before many were in their seats on the sunny afternoon, Braves leadoff hitter Todd Cunningham hit his first home run of the season off of Suns starter Graham Taylor to give Mississippi the early 1-0 edge.  It was the lone mistake that Taylor made in the game. The first three Braves batters of the afternoon each reached base, but Taylor settled down and allowed just four total base runners (three singles and a walk) over his last six innings of work.  The Braves have hit just 31 home runs on the season, fewest in the Southern League, but blasted four in the series against the Suns.
 
In a game dominated by the starters, the Suns had trouble solving Braves right hander Zeke Spruill, with just two singles over the first four innings.  In the fifth, Curt Smith and Danny Pertusati each singled to start the inning.  After Graham Taylor grounded into a force at third, Jake Smolinski singled to left field with Pertusati scoring from second base to tie the score 1-1.  After going hitless in the Suns four game series against the Blue Wahoos, Smolinski collected at least one hit in his three games against the Braves. 
 
In the Suns eighth inning, it was all about the sacrifice.  Two days after driving in all five of the Suns runs, Donnie Webb once again found himself in the center of the offense.  He led off the eighth with a double, when Braves left fielder Tim Smith made a diving attempt on the ball only to come up empty handed.  Jake Smolinski gave himself up when he dropped down a sacrifice bunt, with Webb hustling to third base.  Chris Gutierrez continued the unselfish play with a sacrifice fly to left, with Webb coasting home to give the Suns a 2-1 lead and the win.  For Gutierrez, it was his first RBI of the season against Mississippi. 
 
Graham Taylor allowed one run on five hits over his seven innings of work in the no-decision.  In his last three outings, the lefty has surrendered only two runs in 18 innings.  Josh Schmidt (5-3) pitched the eighth inning on Sunday to win for the second time in his last three appearances.  He also tossed an inning last week in a victory at Pensacola.  Suns closer A.J. Ramos entered the game in the ninth and gave up a single and a walk, but he struck out Cunningham to end the game and earn his 13th save of the season.  Ramos rebounded from a tough loss in game two of the series, when he was nicked for five runs in the ninth in the Braves 8-5 comeback win.
 
Braves starter Zeke Spruill (6-10) pitched a complete game in the loss.  He allowed two runs on seven hits, and the only extra base hit he allowed was an eighth inning double to Donnie Webb.
 
Jeff Dominguez and Danny Pertusati each finished with two singles for the Suns.  Chris Gutierrez saw his 15-game hitting come to an end, but he drove in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly for his 30th RBI of the season.  Gutierrez batted .340 (19-for-58) during the streak.
 
The Suns have won seven of their last nine games, with five of the victories by a single run.  Jacksonville claimed the season series over Mississippi by winning five of the nine meetings.  The Suns have won back-to-back series for the first time since early June.  The Braves have dropped eight of their last 10 games, and currently reside in the basement of the South Division.
 
The Suns begin a five-game series against the Tennessee Smokies on Tuesday night with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m..  RHP Matthew Neil (1-5, 5.59) is expected to take the mound for the Suns.  Jacksonville has taken both previous series from Tennessee this season, winning five of the eight games.

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Braves Rally In Ninth For Win Over Suns

The Braves scored five runs in the ninth inning against Suns closer A.J. Ramos for an 8-5 win at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville July 20, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Mississippi Braves

By Steve Kolbe

The Mississippi Braves scored five runs in the ninth inning to defeat the Suns 8-5 on Friday night at the Baseball Grounds.  The Braves won for the first time this season when trailing going into the ninth (1-43).  The Suns lost for just the second time when leading heading into the ninth inning (37-2). 

The Suns took a 2-0 lead in the home half of the fifth, when Donnie Webb hit a two-run home run to right field off of Braves starter J.R. Graham.  It was Webb’s first home run since June 23rd and his sixth round tripper of the season. 

Mississippi scored three runs on three hits in the seventh inning against Suns starter Bryan Evans to take a 3-2 advantage.  Todd Cunningham drove two of the runs with a double off of reliever Jordan Conley.  In the home half of the seventh, the Suns loaded the bases when Kyle Jensen and Danny Pertusati walked, and Jeff Dominguez singled.  Donnie Webb then doubled in the gap in right-center to clear the bases and put the Suns in front 5-3. 

A.J. Ramos entered the game for the ninth, and for just the third time this season was unable to lock down the win.  The Braves took advantage of three walks, and a pair RBI singles by Christian Bethancourt and Joe Terdoslavich to tie the game 5-5.  With the bases loaded and two outs, Keenan Wiley hit a ball to center field that glanced of off Donnie Webb’s glove while he was attempting to make the catch, with three runs crossing the plate to give the Braves an 8-5 win. 

Only three Suns players had hits in the game.  Donnie Webb went 2-for-5 and drove in all five runs.  It’s the second-most runs batted in for a Suns player in a game this season (Kyle Skipworth drove in six at Chattanooga May 26th).  Jeff Dominguez had three singles, and Chris Gutierrez singled to increase his hitting streak to 15 games.  Christian Bethancourt, Joe Terdoslavich, and Jason Christian each collected two hits for the Braves. 

Starter Bryan Evans allowed three runs on six hits over six and a-third innings in a no decision.  A.J. Ramos (3-1) allowed five runs (2 ER) on two hits in the ninth inning and lost for the first time this season.  All three batters he walked in the inning came around to score.  Cory Rasmus (2-3) allowed just one hit over two innings to earn the win. 

The Suns missed out on a chance to get back to the .500 mark for the first time since June 28, when they were 4-4.  Playing at home hasn’t been an advantage lately for the Suns, with just two wins in their last seven games at the Baseball Grounds.

Game three of the series is Saturday from the Baseball Grounds with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m.  LHP Jose Alvarez (2-5, 4.05) will start for the Suns.  RHP Gary Moran (3-7, 3.15) takes the hill for the Braves.

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Suns Slip Past Braves In Ninth

 

Catcher Kyle Skipworth(left)and second baseman Paul Gran each collected three hits in the Suns 8-7 walk-off win over the Mississippi Braves July 19, 2012 at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

New faces help the Jacksonville Suns come back to win a walk-off thriller 8-7 over the Mississippi Braves on Thursday night at the Baseball Grounds.  The Suns won for just the second time this season when trailing going into the ninth inning (2-43).  Jacksonville also came back to beat Montgomery 5-4 on May 15 when Jake Jefferies hit a three-run home run in the top of the ninth at Riverwalk Stadium.
 
The Braves used the long ball to take the lead against Suns starter James Leverton, who hadn’t surrendered a home run in his previous 10 appearances.  Tim Smith and Christian Marrero each hit solo home runs in the second inning to put the Braves up 2-0.  For Smith it was just his second of the season, for Morrero it was his first home run of the year but he made it count.  Morrero’s blast cleared the right field stands and headed toward the street.   In the third inning, Christian Bethancourth hit his first home run of the year to extend the lead to 3-0. 
 
The Suns broke through in the home half of the third against Mississippi starting pitcher David Hale.  With one out, Chris Gutierrez doubled to the wall in left field to extend his hitting streak to 14 games.  Paul Gran then drove in his 21st run of the season with a single to center, with Gutierrez motoring around from second to cut the Braves lead to 3-1.  With two outs, Kyle Skipworth smashed a two-run home run to tie the game 3-3.  Skipworth has hit four round trippers in the last three games, and his 11 home runs this season match his total last year’s campaign.
 
In the fifth inning, Phil Gosselin led off with his second triple of the season and scored on Jason Christian’s RBI-single to center to give the Braves a 4-3 edge.  In the seesaw affair, the Suns stormed back in the bottom of the fifth.  Chris Gutierrez walked to lead off the inning, but Hale retired both Paul Gran and Kyle Jensen on fly balls.  With two outs, Kyle Skipworth doubled to drive in Gutierrez to tie the game 4-4.  Ben Lasater then followed with a double for his first RBI of the season, with Skipworth rumbling home to vault the Suns back into the lead 5-4. 
 
The Braves jumped ahead in the sixth against Suns reliever Mike Ojala.  Joe Terdoslavich led off with a double into the left field corner, and scored when Joe Leonard singled to knot the game 5-5.  After a single by Marrero put runners on the corners, Phil Gosselin hit a sacrifice fly to center with Leonard tagging from third for a 6-5 Mississippi advantage.
 
The Suns used three singles in the seventh inning to tie the score 6-6.  Paul Gran led off the inning with a base knock, and scored on Shawn Bowman’s two-out RBI-single.  In a game where no lead was safe, the Braves went back in front in the eighth inning against Kyle Kaminska.  After Joe Leonard doubled and Christian Marrero singled, pinch hitter Alden Carrithers swung at the first pitch he saw and sent a fly ball into center field, with Marrero scoring on the sacrifice to give the Braves a 7-6 lead going into the ninth.
 
Mississippi turned to their closer Mark Lamm, who entered the night with 10 saves.  Paul Gran led off the ninth inning with a single to left field to start the rally.  After Kyle Jensen went down on strikes, Kyle Skipwroth and Ben Lasater each walked to load the bases with one out.  Lamm then retired Shawn Bowman with one pitch on a foul pop to the catcher.  With two outs, center fielder Danny Pertusati took center stage and stole the spotlight in his first Double-A game.  Pertusati singled to right field past the diving second baseman, with both Gran and pinch runner Donnie Webb scoring to give the Suns the walk-off win 8-7.  Pertusati was mobbed in the infield by his new teammates to celebrate the win.  The Suns scored seven of their eight runs in the game after there were two outs in an inning.
 
Kyle Skipworth and Paul Gran each had three hits.  Skipworth finished 3-for-4 with three RBI’s and two runs scored.  He has hit four home runs and driven in seven over the last three games.  Gran collected three singles, drove in a run, and scored three of the Suns eight runs.  Chris Gutierrez extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a double in the third inning.  It’s his second streak this season of at least 14 games.  The last time that Gutierrez was held without a hit was July 1st against Pensacola. 
 
Suns starter James Leverton allowed four runs on five hits in five innings of work, including three home runs.  He struck out a season-high seven batters.  After being acquired by the Marlins on July 9, Jon Link pitched the ninth to earn the win in his first game with Jacksonville.  Suns pitchers did not issue a walk for the eleventh time this season.  Braves closer Mark Lamm took the loss to drop to 0-4 this season.
 
The Suns have won three straight games for the first time since April 28 to May 2 when they won four in a row.  Overall, Jacksonville has won five of the last six games..  This season 35 of the Suns 97 games have been decided by a single run (17-18).  The Braves have dropped six of their last seven games, and have been outscored 49-29 in those games.  Mississippi lost for just the second time this season when taking a lead into the ninth (29-2). 
 
Game two of the series is Friday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.  RHP Bryan Evans (3-6, 3.97) will take the mound for the Suns.  Evans allowed just one run in five and a-third innings and earned the victory as the Suns topped the Blue Wahoos 6-1 in Pensacola last week.  LHP Brent Leach (0-2, 1.59) is set to start his second game of the season for the Braves. 
 

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Biscuits Top Suns; Lee’s Hit Streak Reaches 21

 

Shortstop Hak-Ju Lee set the Montgomery franchise record by extending his hitting streak to 21 games. Lee doubled in the ninth inning in the Biscuits 6-2 win over the Jacksonville Suns to break the record that had stood since 2005. Photo Courtesy: Montgomery Biscuits

By Steve Kolbe

In the start of an important stretch with Jacksonville playing seven straight games against teams ahead of them in the South standings, the Suns fell to the Biscuits 6-2 on Wednesday at the Baseball Grounds.  The Biscuits kept pace with Penasacola for the divsion lead with the win (12-8).
 
Suns starter Graham Taylor was reinstated off the disabled list prior to the game against the Biscuits, and made his first appearance since allowing six runs on 10 hits in five innings in a loss at Montgomery.  Taylor pitched well, throwing 87 pitches and allowing just three singles over the first four innings. 
 
In the fifth, leadoff man Michael Sheridan didn’t waste any time giving the Biscuits a 1-0 lead, swinging at the first pitch from Taylor and clubbing his sixth home run of the season into the right field bleachers.  The Suns fell to 10-35 when allowing the first run of the game.
 
The Biscuits took command of the game in the sixth against Suns reliever Josh Schmidt.  Ty Morrison walked to lead off the inning, and Ryan Garko was grazed in the jersey by a pitch.  With one out, Tyler Bortnick singled to load the bases.  Already with a home run, Sheridan came through in the clutch when he doubled to right field with Morrison and Garko both scoring to increase the Biscuits lead to 3-0.  Sheridan was 1-for-7 with the bases loaded entering the game.  Schmidt retired Brett Nommensen on a grounder back to the pitcher, but with two outs Brad Coon singled to drive in a pair of runs to make the score 5-0.  The Biscuits batted around in the inning, scoring four times on three hits.
 
The Suns scored their only two runs of the night in the home half of the sixth against Montgomery starter Nick Barnese.  Donnie Webb led off with a single to center.  With one out, Jake Smolinski reached on shortstop Hak-Ju Lee’s eighteenth error of the season to put runners on first and second.  Curt Smith followed with a RBI-single to center, driving in Webb to put the Suns on the scoreboard.  Smith has 39 RBI’s this season.  After Ben Lasater singled to load the bases, Montgomery brought in reliever Joe Cruz.  Kyle Jensen dove in his 42nd run of the year with a grounder to first base, with Smolinski scoring on the play to cut the lead to 5-2, but that’s as close as the Suns would get.
 
In the ninth inning, Mark Thomas doubled to deep center and Hak-Ju Lee doubled into the right field corner with Thomas crossing the plate to add to the lead at 6-2.  Lee set the Montgomery team record with his 21st consecutive game with a hit, breaking the team record held by Rico Washington during the 2005 campaign.  In 13 of the 21 games during the streak Lee has had only one hit, and he has waited until his final at-bat four times to extend the streak.  Lee has hit safely against the Suns six times in the 21 games.
 
Suns starter Graham Taylor (4-8) allowed one run on five hits over five innings in the loss.  Nick Barnese (1-0) allowed five hits and two unearned runs to earn the win in just his fourth start.  He missed the first half of the season with after straining his shoulder during spring training.   Adam Liberatore allowed one hit over the final two innings to earn his eighth save of the season.  Three of his eight saves have come against the Suns. 
 
Kyle Jensen went 2-for-4 and his double was the Suns only extra base hit in the game.  Ty Morrison, Tyler Bortnick, and Michael Sheridan each had three hits for Montgomery.  Sheridan drove in three of Biscuits six runs.  Montgomery leads the Southern League in batting (.267).
 
The Biscuits improved to 8-3 against the Suns this season, and have scored at least six runs in six of the eight victories.  Montgomery has won four in a row in the season series going back to June 28th, scoring 29 runs along the way.  With the loss, Jacksonville fell to 2-7 against teams from the South Division in the second half.
 
The capital letters “SR” were inscribed in the dirt behind home plate in honor of Suns Owner Peter Bragan, Sr., who passed away at the age of 89 this past Saturday. 
 
Game two of the series is set for Thursday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:35 p.m. from the Baseball Grounds.  RHP Matthew Neil (1-4, 6.04) will make his tenth start of the season for the Suns.  He has lost his last four decisions.  RHP Alex Colome (4-3, 4.72) gets the call for the Biscuits.
 

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Cingrani Shuts Down Suns

Blue Wahoos starter Tony Cingrani (above) combined with reliever Justin Freeman on a two hitter in a 2-0 win over the Suns July 2, 2012 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Photo Courtesy: Pensacola Blue Wahoos

By Steve Kolbe

 
After scoring 31 runs in their previous three home games, the Suns were shut down by Pensacola lefty Tony Cingrani on Monday night in a 2-0 Pensacola victory.  Cingrani and reliever Justin Freeman combined on a two-hitter, and the Suns had just six base runners in the game.
 
In a match up of Southern League Pitchers of the Week, Jose Alvarez for the Suns and Tony Cingrani for the Blue Wahoos, both needed just 20 pitches to breeze through the first two innings at the Baseball Grounds.  Cingrani retired the first 10 batters he faced until Paul Gran singled in the fourth inning.  Alvarez kept the Wahoos off balance and allowed just a single through four innings before leaving the game with an injury.
 
Pensacola scored the only runs of the game in the sixth inning against Suns reliever Alan Oaks.  Pensacola pitcher Tony Cingrani helped his own cause when he led off with a single to left.  Brodie Greene was then hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs.  Didi Gregorius ripped a single to right field, with Cingrani racing around from second to score and give the Blue Wahoos a 1-0 lead.  Brian Peacock then drove in Gregorius with and infield single, and the 2-0 advantage was more than enough for Cingrani.  Pensacola improved to 30-0 this season when leading after the eighth inning.
 
Jose Alvarez left the game with an injury after pitching four innings of one-hit ball.  Alan Oaks (1-1) allowed two runs on three hits over three innings in the loss.  Tony Cingrani (3-1) allowed just two singles in six and two-thirds innings and struck out nine.  He set a team record with 15 strikeouts in his last start against the Jackson Generals.  Justin Freeman closed out the game, fanning four batters in his two and a-third innings to earn his fifth save of the season.  For the Suns it was unlucky 13, with Jacksonville hitter striking out 13 times in the game, 12 times swinging.  Donnie Webb was the only player called out on strikes, and that ended the game. 
 
The Suns were shut out for the eighth time this year, with six of the white washes coming at the Baseball Grounds.  The Suns have been blanked five times in the last 21 games.  It was the first shutout for Pensacola in the season series.  This season the Suns have been on the wrong side of three dominant pitching performances.  Including Pensacola’s Tony Cingrani of the Blue Wahoos, three teams have tossed a two-hitter or a one-hitter at the Baseball Grounds.  Chattanooga’s Aaron Miller and two relievers combined on a one-hitter April 12 in a 1-0 Lookouts win.  Jackson’s Danny Hultzen and Carter Capps pitched a two-hitter June 8 in a 2-0 Generals victory.
 
Chris Gutierrez and Paul Gran were the only players with hits for Jacksonville.  The Blue Wahoos had five players with a single each in the game.  The Suns lead the season series 13-9 (6-6 at home, 7-3 on the road).  The Suns have won three of the four series this season against the Blue Wahoos.
 
The Suns will look to win the season series by taking the finale of the three game set on Tuesday night.  RHP Bryan Evans (2-5, 3.38) will take the mound for the Suns.  RHP Kyle Lotzkar (4-3, 4.21) gets the start for the Blue Wahoos.  The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EST.

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Suns Reel In Blue Wahoos

Jeff Dominguez, Curt Smith, and Paul Gran each hit a home run in the Suns 10-4 win over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

 
The Suns began their brief three game home stand by exploding for a 10-4 win over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos on Sunday night in Jacksonville.  The Suns have won three in a row at the Baseball Grounds, outscoring opponents by a combined 31-4.  The Suns have scored at least 10 runs in each of their last three home games.
 
The Suns used the combination of aggressive base running and power to take the lead in the first inning against Blue Wahoos starter Tim Crabbe.  Jake Smolinski led off the game with a walk, and promptly stole second base.  With one out, Curt Smith hit a two-run home run deep to left field to put the Suns ahead 2-0.  Smith has smashed three home runs in his last five games, and six round trippers in his last 14 games after hitting just one in the first two months of the season.  The Suns have now hit at least one home run in six straight home games.
 
Quick starts have been the norm for the Suns in the second half, scoring at least one run in the first inning in four straight games and five of the last six.  Jacksonville improved to 30-13 when scoring the first run of the game, and the Suns are 18-8 when scoring a run in the first inning.
 
Jacksonville used the long ball again in the second inning to increase the lead to 3-0, when Jeff Dominguez hit his fourth home run of the season.  Dominguez has hit two of his four home runs against Pensacola.  The Suns have hit 17 home runs in the last 15 games.
 
For the third straight game the Suns had built a 3-0 lead, and for the third straight time it would vanish.  With Omar Poveda transferred to New Orleans, Suns lefty James Leverton made his first start of the season and breezed through the first two innings.  In the third, Leverton issued free passes to Mark Fleury and Ryan LaMarre.  With one out, Didi Gregorius tripled down the first base line driving in both base runners to cut the Suns lead to 3-2.  Brodie Greene then sent a sacrifice fly deep to right field, with the speedy Gregorius coasting across the plate to even the score 3-3. 
 
Crabbe continued to struggle with his control in the fifth inning, walking pitcher Kyle Kaminska and Jake Smolinski both on four pitches.  Paul Gran cleared the bases when he hit a three-run home run to left field to hand the Suns a 6-3 advantage.  It was Gran’s first home run since April 16, when he hit a two-run homer against Pensacola’s Curtis Partch in the Suns twelfth game of the season. 
 
Blue Wahoos first baseman Beau Mills hit a solo shot to deep right field off Suns reliever Kyle Kaminska in the sixth to cut the Suns lead to 6-4.  In the home half of the inning, the Suns had four straight hitters reach base with two outs.  Pinch hitter Donnie Webb, Jake Smolinski, and Paul Gran each singled, with Gran’s base knock driving in Webb to make the score 7-4.
 
In the seventh inning, the Suns had five straight batters reach base as they batted around for the eighth time in an inning this season.  Jose Duarte singled to center, Chris Gutierrez walked, and Jeff Dominguez singled to load the bases with one out.  Suns pitcher Josh Schmidt drove in his first run of the season when he bunted for a base hit, with Duarte scoring from third base and it was 8-4 Suns.  Suns pitchers now have three RBI this season.  On a 3-2 count, Jake Smolinski was hit by Chris Manno, with Gutierrez scoring to add to the lead 9-4.  With two outs, Curt Smith drove in Dominguez with the final run of the night. 
 
Jacksonville improved to 13-8 overall this season against Pensacola (6-5 at home, 7-3 on the road), and are one win away from claiming the first-ever season series against their in-state rival.  Sunday’s game was the fifth time this season that the Suns scored 10 or more runs in a game.
 
Curt Smith, Paul Gran, and Jeff Dominguez each finished with two hits.  Smith extended his hitting streak to six games going 7-for-21 with three home runs, seven RBI, and five runs scored during the streak.  Gran drove in half of the Suns eight runs on the night.  Jake Smolinskii reached base all five times at the plate with three walks, a single, and hit by a pitch.  Smolinski and Dominguez each scored twice.  The Suns had at least one base runner in every inning except the fourth.  Every Suns player with the exception of Shawn Bowman reached base at least once.  The Suns finished with 11 hits (8 singles and 3 home runs).
 
Left fielder Bryson Smith had a perfect night in the loss, collecting half of the Blue Wahoos eight hits in the game.  He finished 4-for-4 with three singles and a double.  It’s the seventh time this season that a player has recorded four hits in a game against the Suns.
 
Kyle Kaminska (6-3) allowed a solo home run in two innings of work to earn his second win in the Suns last seven games.  He also helped the offense with a walk and a run scored.  Josh Schmidt pitched the final three innings without allowing a hit to earn his first save of the season.  Tim Crabbe (3-5) allowed six runs on  three hits over four innings in the loss for Pensacola.  He tied his season high by walking six batters, three of the free passes came in to score.  Entering the game, Crabbe had surrendered four home runs in 73 innings.  He gave up three in just four innings to the Suns.
 
Game two of the series is Monday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.  LHP Jose Alvarez (2-4, 4.00) is set to make his 15th start of the season for the Suns.  LP Toni Cingrani (2-1, 2.15) will take the mound for the Blue Wahoos.

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Biscuits Stay Hot With Win Over Suns

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. 

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Suns Fall To Biscuits In Slugfest

 

Biscuits shortstop Hak-Ju Lee(above)finished 2-for-5, drove in a run, and also scored in Montgomery’s 7-6 win over the Suns at Riverwalk Stadium June 26, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Montgomery Biscuits

By Steve Kolbe

The Suns first road game of the second half ended up being a slugfest, with Jacksonville coming up short in a 7-6 loss at Riverwalk Stadium on Tuesday night.  The Suns fell to 2-4 this season in Montgomery.

 The Suns jumped out to an early lead in the first inning against Biscuits starter Alex Colome. Donnie Webb led off with a double to right-center, and he scored when Chris Gutierrez doubled to put Jacksonville up 1-0.  The Suns have scored at least one run in the first inning in 22 games this season. 

The Biscuits wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in the home half of the first.  Leadoff man Hak-Ju Lee singled and stole second base.  The Biscuits next stolen base will be their 100th of the season.  Ty Morrison then singled with Lee scoring to tie the game 1-1.  Suns starter Omar Poveda would face only one more batter.  Omar Luna hammered a line drive back up the middle that hit Poveda in the lower left leg, forcing the Suns pitcher to leave the game.   With Suns lefty James Leverton taking over, Kyeong Kang singled to center with two runs scoring to give the Biscuits a 3-1 advantage. 

Jacksonville roughed up Colome in the second inning, sending nine batters to the plate and scoring five runs on four hits to take a 6-3 lead.  Colome committed two balks in the inning, one of which allowed a run to score.  Chris Gutierrez and Paul Gran each drove in a run with a single in the inning, and Kyle Skipworth plated a run with a sacrifice fly. 

Montgomery started chipping away at the Suns lead in the third.  Omar Luna, Ryan Garko, and Tyler Bortnick all singled to load the bases.  Leverton then committed a balk, with Luna scoring to cut the Suns lead to 6-4.  There were three balks called in the first three innings of the game. 

The Suns had a chance to break the game open in the fifth inning when Jake Jefferies doubled, Jeff Dominguez singled, and Aaron Dudley walked to load the bases with no outs.  But the Suns came up empty when Biscuits reliever Alex Koronis retired the next three batters he faced in what would be the turning point of the game. 

In the home half of the sixth inning, the Biscuits rallied against Suns left hander Bobby Bramhall.  With one out and two on, Mark Thomas came through when he doubled off the wall in left field, with Michael Sheridan scoring to bring the Biscuits within one at 6-5.  Hak-Ju Lee then singled with Brett Nommensen rumbling home to even the score at 6-6. 

In the seventh, the Biscuits completed the comeback against Suns reliever Jordan Conley.  Kyeong Kang led off the inning with a double down the left field line.  After Tyler Bornick was hit by a pitch, and Michael Sheridan dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third, the Suns elected to walk Brett Nommensen to load the bases.  Mark Thomas then drove in the go-ahead run with a ground ball to short, with the Suns unable to turn an inning-ending double play, and Kang touched the plate to put the Biscuits in front 7-6. 

The two teams combined for 13 runs on 28 hits.  Jake Jefferies finished 3-for-5 with a double and scored a run.  Jeff Dominguez and Aaron Dudley each had two hits, and Chris Gutierrez drove in two of the Suns six runs.  The Suns collected five doubles in the game, two shy of their season high.  

Montgomery finished with a season-high 14 hits in the game.  Ryan Garko and Kyeon Kang led the Biscuits with three hits each.  Kang has now reached base safely in 12 straight games.  

Jordan Conley (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing one run on three hits in two and two-thirds innings of work. Neil Schenk (3-0) pitched the seventh inning for the win.  Adam Liberatore tossed the final two innings to earn his seventh save of the season.  The Suns threatened in the ninth with Jeff Dominguez and Curt Smith hitting singles to put runners on the corners with two outs.  Liberatore buckled down and struck out Donnie Webb to end the game.

 
Game two of the series is Wednesday with the first pitch scheduled for 8:05 p.m. EST.  LHP Jose Alvarez (2-4, 4.15) will start his 14th game of the season.  After allowing just two singles in eight innings in a 2-0 win over Tennessee, Alvarez was named the Southern League’s Pitcher of the Week.  The Biscuits will send LHP Kyle Lobstein (3-3, 4.7) to the mound for his 15th start of the season.

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Suns Win Series Against Smokies

 

The Suns take two from the Tennessee Smokies, 11-3 and 10-3, on a stormy day June 25, 2012 at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns won both games against the Tennessee Smokies on Monday at the Baseball Grounds to take three of the five games in the series.  Jacksonville claimed the first game 11-3, and then won the regularly scheduled game 10-3. 
 
When the rain suspended game four of the series Sunday, the Suns were trailing 2-1 in the third inning.  When play resumed on Monday morning at 11:00 a.m., Suns reliever Zach Neal took over on the mound for Graham Taylor.  Taylor allowed two runs on five hits over two and a-third innings before the game was suspended.
 
The Suns took the lead in the bottom of the third.  Jake Smolinski led off with a walk, and came around to score on Paul Gran’s second triple of the season to tie the game 2-2.  Kyle Skipworth then hit a ground ball to shortstop Junior Lake, who committed the first of his two errors in the inning, with Gran crossing the plate to put the Suns in front 3-2.
 
With Alan Oaks on the mound for the Suns, Tennessee tied the game in the sixth inning.  Jim Adduci beat out an infield single, and Mike Burgess drove him in with a double to tie the game at 3-3.
 
The Suns took the lead for good in the sixth inning against Smokies pitcher Eric Jokisch.  Jeff Dominguez led off with a double down the third base line, and Jose Duarte singled to right to put runners on the corners.  After a sacrifice bunt by Zach Neal moved Duarte over to second, Donnie Webb drove in two runs with a single to give the Suns a 5-3 lead.
 
In the seventh inning, Kyle Skipworth was awarded first base on catchers interference, and Curt Smith then walked.  With two outs, Jeff Dominguez smashed his third home run of the season to increase the Suns lead to 8-3.  Dominguez has hit two three-run home runs this season, both at the Baseball Grounds.
 
The Suns padded the lead in the eighth inning with a two out rally.  Jake Smolinski was hit by a pitch, Paul Gran singled, and Kyle Skipworth walked to load the bases.  Shawn Bowman then cleared the bases with a double to left-center field to make the score 11-3.  Bowman is 3-for-6 with nine RBI this season with the bases loaded. 
 
Paul Gran went 3-for-5 with a RBI and scored two runs.  Donnie Webb, Shawn Bowman, and Jeff Dominguez each had two hits in the first game.  Bowman leads the Suns with 36 RBI.
 
Pitcher Alan Oaks arrived at the ballpark on Monday morning after being transferred from Jupiter of the Florida State League to Jacksonville.  He earned the win, allowing a run on three hits.  Smokies pitcher Eric Jokisch (3-1) allowed 10 runs on eight hits and lost for the first time this season.
 
In the regularly scheduled game, Suns starter Matthew Neil retired the first nine batters that he faced before running into trouble in the fourth.  Jim Adduci walked to lead off the inning, but was erased when Jae-Hoon Ha grounded into a double play.  With two outs, the Smokies collected four straight hits to start the scoring.  Junior Lake singled and scored when Justin Bour doubled to right field to give Tennessee a 1-0 advantage.  Bour leads the Southern League with 55 runs batted in.  Nelson Perez followed by hitting his first triple of the season, with Bour scoring to build a 2-0 lead.  Nate Samson made it 3-0 when he singled up the middle, with Perez cruising across the plate.
 
The Suns began the comeback in the home half of the fourth against Smokies starter Dallas Beeler.  Kyle Jensen doubled with one out, and scored when Aaron Dudley collected his first hit and first RBI with the Suns to cut the lead to 3-1.  Jacksonville drew even in the fifth, with Jake Smolinski and Kyle Jensen each driving in a run to tie the score 3-3. 
 
The Suns broke the game open in the sixth when they batted around, and tied their season-high for runs in a inning by scoring seven times, all with two outs.  Paul Gran led off with a double, and Jeff Dominguez walked with one out to put runners on first and second.  After pinch hitter Kyle Skipworth struck out, Donnie Webb drew a walk to load the bases with two away.  Chris Gutierrez snapped an 0-for-6 stretch with a clutch single to drive in two runs and put the Suns ahead 5-3.  After Jake Smolinski was hit by a pitch, the bases were full of Suns again.  Kyle Jensen delivered with a single to center, with Webb and Gutierrez scoring on the play to make the score 7-3.  Jensen is 3-for-6 with nine RBI with the bases loaded this season.
 
Already with a hit and RBI, Suns first baseman Aaron Dudley cleared the bases with one swing of the bat when he blasted a home run into the right field seats and the Suns had a 10-3 lead.  The Suns scored seven runs in an inning for the second time this season.  In a 7-0 win in Mobile on April 23rd, the Suns scored all seven of their runs in the eighth inning.
 
Kyle Jensen finished 3-for-3, drove in three runs and scored twice.  He is second on the team with 35 RBI.  Aaron Dudley went 2-for-4 with four RBI.  Donnie Webb, Jake Smolinski, and Kyle Jensen each scored twice.
 
Kyle Kaminska (5-3) pitched a scoreless sixth inning for the win.  His last victory was May 2nd at Birmingham.  Kevin Rhoderick (1-3) allowed five runs on five hits.  
 
The Suns hit seven home runs against the Smokies, with Donnie Webb hitting two of the long balls.  It’s the first time this season that Jacksonville has hit a home run in every game of a series.   Jacksonville has now scored 10 or more runs in a game four times this season.
 
The Suns begin a five game series in Montgomery on Tuesday night with the first pitch scheduled for 8:05 p.m. EST.  The Biscuits took three of five from the Suns at Riverwalk Stadium May 11-15.

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