Tag Archives: Frank Batista

Smokies Slug Three Home Runs To Down Suns

Tennessee shortstop Junior Lake hit a pair of two-run home runs in the Smokies 7-5 win over the Jacksonville Suns July 25, 2012 at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies

 By Steve Kolbe

The Tennessee Smokies powered past the Suns by hitting three home runs for the second straight game in a 7-5 victory Wednesday afternoon.  The Suns have given up 10 home runs in their last six games at the Baseball Grounds.
Suns starter Bryan Evans struggled with his control in the first inning, walking the first three batters of the game to load the bases.  Justin Bour drove in the first run of the day with a sacrifice fly to right field, with Junior Lake scoring to put the Smokies in front 1-0.  Bour leads the Southern League with 76 RBI’s. 
In the second inning Junior Lake connected for a two-run homer off of Evans to increase the Smokies lead to 3-0.  Lake has hit three of his six home runs this season against Suns pitching.
The Suns closed the gap in the home half of the second against Tennessee starter Dae-Eun Rhee.  With one out, Shawn Bowman reached on an error by first baseman Justin Bour.  Curt Smith then singled to center, and when center fielder Jae-Hoon Ha ran past the ball, Bowman went to third and Smith advanced to second.  Jake Jefferies knocked in both base runners with a single to center to cut the Smokies lead to 3-2. 
Jacksonville tied the game 3-3 in the fifth inning when Danny Pertusati reached base on an infield single, and scored when pinch hitter Jose Duarte double into the left field corner.  After a single by Jake Smolinski put runners on the corners, Duarte hustled home on a ground out by Chris Gutierrez to put the Suns in front for the first time 4-3. 
Junior Lake hit his second two-run homer of the day off Suns reliever Jordan Conley in the top of the sixth, and the Smokies were on top 5-4.  Lake had a hand in all seven runs for the Smokies, driving in four of the  seven runs in the game, and scoring three others..  Nelson Perez added some insurance in the ninth inning when he belted the Smokies third two-run home run of the game to pad the lead to 7-4.  Danny Pertusati drove in a run in the Suns half of the ninth to make the final score 7-5.
The Smokies had at least one base runner in every inning on Wednesday.  In the series Tennessee has scored 16 runs on 23 hits.  The Smokies went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left a dozen men on base, including the bases loaded twice.
Suns starter Bryan Evans allowed three runs on three hits, and walked six batters in a season-low two and two-thirds innings.  Evans had walked a total of six batters in his previous four starts.  Jordan Conley (1-2) surrendered two runs on five hits in the loss.  Smokies starter Dae-Eun Rhee (7-5) allowed four runs on nine hits in the win.  Frank Batista pitched the final two innings to tie for the league lead in saves with 18.
Game three of the series is Thursday night with the first pitch scheduled for 7:35 p.m.  LHP Brian Flynn is expected to make his first start for the Suns.  RHP Dallas Beeler (4-6, 4.11) will take the mound for Tennessee.

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Filed under Ahead Of The Curve, Southern League News

Suns Ninth Inning Rally Falls Short

Jacksonville center fielder Donnie Webb paced the offense with a two-run home run, a triple, and three RBI in the Suns 7-6 loss to the Tennessee Smokies. Photo Courtesy: Jackonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

After a 30 minute rain delay,  the Jacksonville Suns fell behind early on Saturday night, and a ninth inning comeback fell just short in a 7-6 loss to the Tennessee Smokies at the Baseball Grounds.

The Suns took the lead in the second inning when Kyle Skipworth and Curt Smith each hit solo home runs to give Jacksonville a 2-0 advantage.  The Suns have started the scoring in all three games of the series against the Smokies, but have lost two of three contests. 

Tennessee put together a big inning in the top of third, sending nine men to the plate against Suns starter Bryan Evans.  Pitcher Jeff Antigua led off the inning with a walk, and Logan Watkins doubled behind him to put runners on second and third.  Jae-Hoon Ha then singled to left field, driving in Antigua to trim the Suns lead to 2-1.  With one out, Justin Bour increased his league-leading RBI total to 54, when he hit a sacrifice fly to center with Watkins hustling home from third to tie the game 2-2.  

With one on and two outs, Nelsen Perez hit a two-run home run into the right field stands to put the Smokies on top 4-2.  It was his first home run with Tennessee after being promoted from High-A Daytona three days earlier, where he ranked third in the Florida State League in round trippers.  The inning continued when Matt Cerda singled with two outs, and that brought Mike Burgess to the plate.  Burgess then belted a two-run home run to center field to increase the lead to 6-2.  The home run by Burgess is the longest hit at the Baseball Grounds this season.  In the inning, the Smokies scored six runs on five hits.  It’s the seventh time this season that the Suns have allowed five or more runs in an inning.  

The Smokies added a run in the seventh on a RBI single by Jae-Hoon Ha to make the score 7-2.  The Suns began their comeback attempt in the bottom half of the seventh, when pinch hitter Paul Gran singled and scored on Donnie Webb’s sixth triple of the season to make the score 7-3. 

In the home half of the ninth, reliever Kevin Rhoderick struck out Jeff Dominguez for the first out.  After Paul Gran was hit by a pitch for the 12th time this season, Donnie Webb blasted a two-run home run into the right field seats to cut the lead to 7-5.  Webb has hit a home run in two straight games, both to right field. 

Rhoderick struck out Chris Gutierrez for the second out of the inning, but Jake Smolinski scratched out an infield single, and stole second base.  Shawn Bowman then drove in Smolinski with a single to left, and the Suns were down 7-6.  With a runner on first, two outs, and the Suns down by just a run, the stage was set for high drama.  The Smokies made the call to the bullpen and summoned their closer Frank Batista.  In a showdown between two Southern League All-Stars, catcher Kyle Skipworth jumped on the first pitch that he saw from Batista, and nearly gave the Suns a walk-off win by sending a fly ball deep to left field.  With the crowd and the Suns dugout on their feet, left fielder Nelson Perez raced back and made the catch on the warning track, and the Suns comeback fell just a few feet short.  The Suns have scored three runs in the ninth inning four times this season, but Saturday’s loss is the first time that they have come up short of a win. 

Five of the 18 combined hits in the game were home runs.  Jacksonville belted three homers in a game for the first time this season, and have hit five home runs in the series.  For the Suns, Donnie Webb paced the offense going 2-for-5 with a home run, triple, and three RBI.  Webb is tied for third in the Southern League with six triples.  Logan Watkins, Justin Bour, and Jae-Hoon Ha each collected two hits for the Smokies.  Watkins tripled on the first pitch of the game from Bryan Evans. 

Suns starter Bryan Evans (2-5) entered the game with a 2.90 ERA, third lowest in the league.  He pitched four innings, allowing six runs on seven hits.  Evans had allowed only 12 runs in his first eight games at the Baseball Grounds.  Casey Weathers (3-1) picked up the win by allowing one hit over two innings of work for the Smokies.  Frank Batista, who finished second in the Florida State League with 26 saves last season with Daytona, recorded the final out to earn his 11th save of the season.

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Filed under Ahead Of The Curve, Southern League News