Tag Archives: Graham Taylor

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 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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Braves Spoil Suns Chance At .500

 By Steve Kolbe

The Suns scored twice in a ninth inning rally, but fell short in a 4-3 loss to the Mississippi Braves Saturday night at Trustmark Park.
 
The game was scoreless through the first six innings with Suns starter Graham Taylor allowing just two hits, and Braves starter David Hale surrendering only three singles.  Jacksonville scored the first run of night in the seventh inning, when right fielder Kyle Jensen led off by hitting his eighth home run of the season to give the Suns a 1-0 edge.
 
Taylor ran into trouble in the Braves half of the seventh.  With one out, Joe Terdoslavich walked and Christian Bethancourt and Keenan Wiley both singled to load the bases.  The Suns left Taylor on the mound to face pinch hitter Ian Gac, who hit a hard grounder that glanced off the glove of third baseman Shawn Bowman and deflected into left field, with Terdoslavich and Bethancourt scoring to give the Braves a 2-1 lead.
 
Mississippi scored two more insurance runs in the eighth inning against reliever Evan Reed.  Todd Cunningham singled to right and stole second base.  Tim Smith then singled to left, driving in Cunningham to increase the lead to 3-1.  Pinch runner Alden Carrithers stole second base, and he scored when Joe Terdoslavich doubled to the left field wall for a 4-1 Braves advantage. 
 
The Suns rallied in the ninth inning against Braves closer Mark Lamm, scoring two runs on three hits.  Kyle Jensen and Kyle Skipworth singled to put runners on the corners with one out.  Curt Smith then drove in Jensen with a single to cut the lead to 4-2.  Paul Gran’s sacrifice fly to right field plated Skipworth to make the score 4-3, but Lamm stuck out Jose Duarte to end the threat. 
 
Suns shortstop Chris Gutierrez finished 2-for-4 with two singles and extended his hit streak to 15 games.  He is batting .360 (20-for-56) during the streak.  Not to be out done, Braves center fielder Todd Cunningham singled in his last at bat to extend his hit streak to 15 games.  The longest hitting streak in the Southern League this season is a 16-game streak by Pensacola’s Henry Rodriguez.
 
Kyle Jensen and Curt Smith also finished with two hits for Jacksonville.  Jensen hit his first home run in the month of June.  Christian Bethancourt, Joe Terdoslavich, and Keenan Wiley had two hits each for Mississippi.
 
Suns manager Andy Barkett was ejected in the middle of the fourth inning.  Curt Smith appeared to have stolen second base, when the throw from Braves catcher Christian Bethancourt got away from Phil Gosselin covering the bag.  Smith was called out, and Barkett was then thrown out by third base umpire Matt McCoy when he argued the call.  Barkett has been tossed out three times this season, and twice by the same umpiring crew.
 
Graham Taylor (4-6) pitched six and two-thirds innings, and had a two-hitter going into the seventh.  He allowed two runs on six hits and stuck out four.  David Hale (5-3) tossed seven innings, allowing four singles and the solo home run to Jensen.  Hale entered the night having walked the fifth-most batters in the league, but on Saturday he didn’t issue a free pass.  Mark Lamm wiggled his way out of the ninth inning jam to earn his eighth save of the season.
 
The Suns have scored the first run in all four games of the series, but have lost twice.  Jacksonville is 27-7 this season when crossing the plate first.  The Suns are 19-15 on the road this season, and are one of just three teams that can finish the first half with 20 or more road victories.
 
The series finale is Sunday from Trustmark Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:00 p.m. EST.  RHP Matthew Neil (1-1, 4.67) will start his 6th game of the season for the Suns.  LHP Sean Gilmartin (4-6, 3.40) takes the hill for his 14th start of the year for the Braves.  Three of Gillmartin’s wins have been complete games, most in the Southern League.
 

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Suns Rout Generals 7-0 and 9-0 Sunday

 

Suns center fielder Donnie Webb went 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI in a 7-0 Game 1 win over the Jackson Generals June 10, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns shut out the Jackson Generals twice on Sunday, scoring a combined 16 runs on 23 hits.  The Suns started the day with a 7-0 win in the completion of a game that was suspended by rain on Saturday night.  In the seven-inning night cap, the Suns again blanked the Generals, 9-0.
 
The Jacksonville Suns had already built a 4-0 lead over the Jackson Generals at the Baseball Grounds on Saturday night, with Donnie Webb hitting a two-run home run, and Ryan Patterson and Shawn Bowman each driving in a run.  Rain then stopped the play, and the game was suspended in the bottom of the fourth inning.  Webb has hit the Suns last two home runs.
 
After a rain delay of one hour and 20 minutes, the game resumed on Sunday at 4:25 p.m., with the Suns batting in the fourth.  Generals reliever Moises Hernandez took over on the mound, and the Suns picked up where they had left off the night before.  With two outs, Chris Gutierrez increased the Suns lead to 6-0 by sending a double to the gap in right-center, with Jake Jefferies and Paul Gran scoring on the play.  Gutierrez is the fifth Suns player this season with 20 or more runs batted in. 
 
The Suns tacked on another run in the sixth, when Jake Jefferies led off the inning with a double for his second hit of the game.  After Paul Gran grounded out, Ryan Patterson drove in Jefferies with his second double of the game to pad the lead to 7-0.
 
The Suns had four playres with a multi-hit game, led by Ryan Patterson who was 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI and a run scored.   Donnie Webb finished 2-for-5 with two RBI and scored a pair of runs.  Chris Gutierrez went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in.  Jake Jefferies also had two hits and scored twice.
 
Suns starting pitcher Bryan Evans was cruising along in search of his second straight win before the game was suspended the previous night.  He had retired the first seven batters he faced, and allowed just two hits over four innings.  Left hander Bobby Bramhall (1-1) was pressed into service to re-start the game on Sunday afternoon.  He allowed just three hits in his four innings of work to win his first game of the season. 
 
Josh Schmidt struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth.  Steve Garrison (3-3) allowed six runs on seven hits.  The Generals had just five singles in the game. 
 
In the second game, the Suns continued to batter Generals pitching on the way to a 9-0 win, with every player reaching base safely at least once.   It didn’t take long for the Suns to figure out Jackson starter Taylor Stanton.  Back in left field for the first time since his concussion, Jake Smolinski led off the first inning with a single, and scored when Chris Gutierrez doubled to the wall in left field for 1-0 lead.  Ryan Patterson then singled, with Gutierrez coasting home, and it was 2-0 Suns.  The Suns improved to 14-3 this season when scoring in the first inning.
 
Suns first baseman Curt Smith had the big swing in the third inning, connecting for a three-run home run and a 5-0 Jacksonville advantage.  It was Smith’s second home run of the year, and first since the fifth game of the season, when he hit a two-run homer against the Huntsville Stars in the first series. 
 
Jacksonville added three more runs in the fourth to pad the lead to 8-0, with Kyle Skipworth driving in two runs with his second triple of the season, and Kyle Jensen delivering with a RBI single. 
 
The Suns plated one more in the sixth on three straight singles, with Ryan Patterson driving in the Suns ninth run of the night.  On the play, Patterson appeared to injure his left ankle when rounding first base and trying to stop. 
 
Every Suns player finished with at least one hit with the exception of third baseman Shawn Bowman.  Jake Smolinski, Kyle Skipworth, Kyle Jensen, and Ryan Patterson each finished with two hits. 
 
By scoring at least a run in the first inning in both games, Jacksonville improved to 24-5 when crossing the plate first.  The Suns have seven shutouts this season, matching their total from the 2011 campaign.  It’s the first time this season that the Jackson Generals have been blanked in two straight games.
 
Suns starter Graham Taylor allowed just four hits in his five innings of work to improve his record to 4-5.  Taylor has won two of his last three starts after dropping three in a row.  A.J. Ramos and Evan Reed each pitched an inning.  Taylor Stanton( 1-2) surrendered eight runs on nine hits over four innings.  Every Suns batter reached base at least once in the game.  Jacksonville is now 9-3 in games played on Sunday.
 
The final game of the series is Monday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.  RHP Matthew Neil (1-0, 4.37) will start the Suns final home game in the first half of the season .  RHP Brandon Maurer (4-1, 3.80) is set to start his 13th game of the year for the Generals. 

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Blue Wahoos Even Series With Suns

Blue Wahoos starter J.C. Sulbaran struck out 10 to lead Pensacola to a 9-2 win over Jacksonville June 5, 2012 at Bayfront Stadium. Photo Courtesy: Pensacola Blue Wahoos

By Steve Kolbe

 
After a brief weather delay, the Jacksonville Suns started slow and never recovered in a 9-2 loss to the Blue Wahoos on Tuesday night at Bayfront Stadium in Pensacola.  The two teams are once again tied for third place in the South Division with identical 27-32 records.
 
The Blue Wahoos went right to work against Suns starter Graham Taylor in the first inning.  For the fans who were late to their seats, they missed leadoff hitter Ryan LaMarre blast his second round-tripper of the season to put Pensacola in front 1-0.  Didi Gregorius then doubled to left, and came around to score on Brodie Greene’s RBI single to give the Blue Wahoos a 2-0 lead.  It’s the second straight game that Pensacola has scored two runs in the first inning.  
 
Taylor settled down for the next two innings and was helped out by the double play ball, but he ran into more trouble in the home half of the fourth.  Joel Guzman and David Vidal hit back-to-back singles to left field to start the inning.  With one out, Andrew Means drove in both runners with a single, with Vidal scoring on an error, and the Blue Wahoos had doubled their lead to 4-0. 
 
Pensacola catcher Chris Berset keep the rally going with another single to left to put runners on first and third with only one out.  Blue Wahoos starting pitcher J.C. Sulbaran helped his own cause with a sacrifice bunt, with Means scoring on the play to make the score 5-0.  The inning finally ended when LaMarre was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, but not before Berset crossed the plate to pad the lead to 6-0 in favor of Pensacola.  In the inning, the Blue Wahoos scored four runs on five singles.
 
Jacksonville brought in reliever Zach Neal to start the fifth inning, and he was greeted by an infield single by Didi Gregorius, who then moved to second base on a throwing error.  Brodie Green drove in his second run of the night when he tripled into the gap in left-center, with Gregorius scoring for a 7-0 advantage.  Later in the inning, David Vidal’s sacrifice fly pushed Greene across the pate and the scoreboard read 8-0.
 
The Suns scored their only two runs of the night in the seventh against J.C. Sulbaran.  Kyle Jensen led off the inning with a walk, and scored when Ryan Patterson drove in his 10th run of the season with a double down the left field line.  With two outs, Donnie Webb doubled for his 15th run batted in on the year, with Patterson scoring to make the score 8-2.

Pensacola tacked on another run in the eighth inning on a RBI ground out by Chris Berset, and the Blue Wahoos had a 9-2 win.  It’s the sixth time this season that the Suns have allowed eight runs or more, with the Blue Wahoos accomplishing the feat three times.  Pensacola has won consecutive games for the first time in over two weeks, last winning two contests in a row in Jacksonville May 18-19.

It’s the third time this season that the Blue Wahoos have scored nine or more runs in a game, they also had a 9-3 win over the Suns April 26th at the Baseball Grounds.  The seven run win is the second largest margin over victory that Pensacola has had in a game this season, second only to an 8-0 win over Birmingham May 12th at Bayfront Stadium.

Suns pitcher Graham Taylor had his shortest outing since his first start of the season, when he allowed six runs in four innings against Chattanooga.  Taylor surrendered six runs (5 ER) on ten hits in his four innings of work on Tuesday and fell to 3-5 on the season.  Zach Neal came out of the bullpen, allowing three runs on four hits in the final four innings of the game. 

Blue Wahoos starter J.C. Sulbaran allowed two runs on seven hits over six and a-third innings to improve his record to 4-4.  Sulbaran struck out 10 Suns batters to earn his first win over Jacksonville this season in four starts.  Relievers Wilkin De La Rose and Clayton Tanner finished the job, allowing just one hit in the final three innings.  Pensacola pitchers fanned 14 Suns batters on Tuesday, and in the series Blue Wahoos hurlers have 49 strike outs in four games.

For the Suns, Donnie Webb and Jeff Dominguez each finished with two hits, with Webb driving in his 15th run of the season.  Ryan Patterson, Curt Smith, Kyle Jensen, and Kyle Skipworth each had one hit.  The Blue Wahoos collected 14 hits.  Five players had multi-hit efforts and seven players scored at least one run for Pensacola.  David Vidal finished 3-for-3, drove in a run, and scored twice.  Andrew Means went 3-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored.  Ryan LaMarre and Brodie Greene each had two hits and two RBI.  Didi Gregorius added a pair of hits to extend his hit streak to eight games.  It’s his second streak of at least eight games this season.

The rubber match of the series is Wednesday night with the first pitch scheduled for 8:00 p.m. from Bayfront Stadium in Pensacola.  RHP Matthew Neil (0-0, 5.49) will start his fourth game of the season for the Suns.  RHP Daniel Corcino (2-3, 3.79) is set to take the mound for the Blue Wahoos.

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Jensen’s Home Run Hits Scoreboard; Suns Top BayBears

Suns right fielder Kyle Jensen smashed a three-run home run that hit the scoreboard at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville May 31, 2012 in 5-3 win over the Mobile BayBears. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

A towering three-run home run by Kyle Jensen helped the Jacksonville Suns to a 5-3 win over the Mobile BayBears on Thursday night at the Baseball Grounds. After losing both games of a double header on Tuesday, the Suns have now won two straight to even the series and more importantly gain ground on the BayBears in the South Division. 

Mobile took the lead in the third against Suns starter Graham Taylor when Wladimir Sutil led off the inning with his seventh double of the season.  After a sacrifice bunt by the pitcher Gaby Hernandez pushed Sutil to third, Alfredo Marte drove him in with a sacrifice fly to put Mobile on top 1-0.  Marte is tied for third in the Southern League with 33 RBI. 

The Suns drew even in the fifth, when Kyle Skipworth was hit by BayBears pitcher Gaby Hernandez to lead off the inning.  Kyle Jensen then hit a ground ball to third baseman Matt Davidson, but instead of starting a double play, the ball rolled under his glove and into left field with Skipworth going all the way to third and Jensen to second.  It was the third error committed by Davidson in the last two games.  Jeff Dominguez stepped in and sent a sacrifice fly to center for his tenth RBI of the season, with Skipworth scoring to tie the game 1-1. 

In the sixth, the Suns broke the game open scoring four runs on four hits against Hernandez.  Chris Gutierrez led off with a walk, and was sacrificed to second by Paul Gran.  Jake Smolinski scratched out an infield single to put runners on the corners with one out.  Shawn Bowman delivered with his 25th RBI of the season, a line drive single to center field with Gutierrez scoring to put the Suns in front 2-1.  Kyle Jensen cleared the bases with a manager’s best friend, the three-run home run.  Jensen turned on a Hernandez pitch and smashed a mammoth blast that hit the scoreboard in left field to make the score 5-1.  Jensen leads the Suns with seven home runs.  

Brent Clevlen hit a solo home run off of Taylor in the seventh to cut the Suns lead to 5-2, and Alfredo Marte hit a solo home run off of Evan Reed in the eighth to edge the BayBears closer but that would be all for the Mobile offense.  Reed struck out the side in the eighth.  The home run by Marte is the first round tripper that Reed has given up this season.  Mobile tied the Jackson Generals for the most home runs in the league with 40.  The Generals are at the Baseball Grounds next week for a five game series. 

Five different players had one hit for the Suns, with Jensen hitting Jacksonville’s second three-run home run in as many days against Mobile.  For the BayBears, Matt Davidson finished 2-for-4 with a single and a double.  Alfredo Marte hit his 11th home run of the season and drove in two of the BayBears three runs.  Marte and Davidson are now tied for the league lead with 11 homers each.  

The BayBears have been held to three runs or fewer in seven straight games and eight of their last 10, but have managed to win six times.  The Suns have scored at least five runs in two straight games for the first time in 13 games. 

After snapping their eight-game losing streak to the BayBears with a 9-0 victory on Wednesday, the Suns have won two straight over Mobile for just second time this season.  Jacksonville is now 5-24 when allowing their opponent to score first, while the BayBears fell to 23-8 when taking the lead. 

Suns starting pitcher Graham Taylor won for the first time in over a month (April 28th vs. Pensacola) and improved his record to 3-4 with two of the wins against Mobile.  He allowed two runs on six hits over his seven innings of work, throwing 77 pitches, 55 for strikes.  Against Mobile this season Taylor has allowed just three earned runs on 11 hits over 20.2 innings pitched. Taylor has allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his 11 starts.  Evan Reed fanned three batters in the eighth inning.  A.J. Ramos was overpowering in the ninth, striking out the side for his second save of the season.  BayBears starter Gaby Hernandez allowed five runs on five hits, and has now lost his first two starts with the BayBears after signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks two weeks ago.  

The series is up for grabs on Friday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05p.m.  RHP Matthew Neil (0-0, 8.38) will start his third game for the Suns.  LHP Tyler Skaggs (3-3, 2.72) is set to start his tenth game of the season for Mobile.

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Suns Fall Short In Extra Innings

Lookouts right fielder Blake Smith hit a solo home run in the third inning off of Suns starter Graham Taylor. Smith leads Chattanooga with seven home runs and 28 runs batted in. Photo Courtesy: Chattanooga Lookouts

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns struck out a season-high 17 times and ended up on the wrong side of a 14-inning affair on Friday night, with the Lookouts winning 5-4 at AT&T Field in Chattanooga.  The Suns lost in extra innings for the first time this season and are now 2-1 when working overtime, with all three of the games on the road.  The Lookouts have gone into extra innings five times in their last 11 games.  Chattanooga is now 3-3 in extra-inning games this season. 

The Suns scored the first run of the game in the second inning against Lookouts starter Chris Withrow, when Shawn Bowman walked to lead off the inning and later scored on a single by Russell Mitchell to give Jacksonville a 1-0 advantage.  Mitchell has driven in nine runs this season. 

The Lookouts used the long ball to take the lead in the bottom half of the second against Suns starter Graham Taylor. After Brahiam Maldonado led off the home half of the inning with a single, Pedro Baez smashed his second home run of the season over the left field fence, a two-run blast that put the Lookouts in front 2-1. 

In the third inning, the Lookouts flexed their muscle again when Blake Smith hit a solo home run to right field off of Taylor to increase the lead to 3-1.  Taylor has given up a team-high seven home runs this season. 

Jacksonville cut into the lead in the fourth when Shawn Bowman led off inning by reaching base again, this time with a single.  Playing in his second straight game, catcher Jake Jefferies drove in Bowman with his second double of the year, and the Suns trailed 3-2.  

In the fifth, the Suns reclaimed the lead when Paul Gran walked, and Jake Smolinski reached on an error by shortstop Jake Lemmerman.  With two on and one out, Bowman continued his strong night at the plate when he doubled into the gap in right-center field, with Gran scoring from second and Smolinski hustling around from first  to give the Suns a 4-3 edge.  That would be the last run of the night.  After scoring four runs on four hits in the first five innings, the Suns had just three hits in the games final nine innings. 

In the home half of the seventh, Rafael Ynoa led off the inning with his first triple of the season.  He wasn’t on base for long, with Nick Buss driving him in with a single on a two strike pitch to tie the game 4-4.  Ynoa would later leave the game after he was injured on a head first slide into first base. 

In the fourteenth inning, lead off hitter Nick Buss was hit by a Josh Schmidt pitch and Luis Nunez singled to left.  After a ground out by J.T. Wise, the Suns walked Blake Smith intentionally to load the bases and take their chances with the pitcher, Blake Johnson.   With Chattanooga out of position players, Johnson was forced to grab a bat and take a trip to the plate.  With the Suns infield in, Johnson helped his own cause with his first hit of the season, sending a grounder back up the middle for the game-winning RBI to give the Lookouts a 5-4 victory.  In the series Lookouts pitchers have five hits against the Suns, with at least one hit in every game. 

This season, 20 of Jacksonville’s first 48 games have been decided by a single run, with the Suns 10-10 in those games.  The Suns won eight of their first 12 one-run games this year, but have won just two of the last eight games decided by the smallest of margins.  

Suns starter Graham Taylor took the mound at 7:20 p.m. for his tenth start of the season.  He allowed four runs on 10 hits over six innings and was long gone when the game ended four hours and nine minutes later.  Relievers Kyle Kaminska, A.J. Ramos, and Bobby Bramhall combined to pitch seven scoreless innings.  Josh Schmidt allowed two hits and the game-winning run the 14th inning to fall to 1-3 on the season. 

Chris Withrow started the game for the Lookouts, and allowed four runs on four hits over five innings.  Before the night was over, Lookouts manager Carlos Subero had made six calls to the bullpen.  In the end, Blake Johnson pitched two hitless innings to earn the win and improve to 2-3.    Both teams combined to use a dozen pitchers.  For the Lookouts, only Luis Vasquez and Allen Webster were left in the bullpen at the end of the night.  Zach Neal, Wade Korpi, and Evan Reed were the only Suns hurlers not to have their names called. 

Jacksonville hitters struck out a season-high 17 times on Friday.  In five of the last eight games, Suns batters have struck out at least 11 times.   Shawn Bowman went 3-for-4, drove in two of the Suns four runs and scored twice.  Jake Jefferies, Russell Mitchell, Danny Black, and Paul Gran each had one hit. 

The Lookouts tied a season-high with 16 hits with 11 players with at least one hit on the night.  Pedro Baez, Luis Nunez, Blake Smith, Jake Lemmerman, and Chris Withrow each finished with two hits apiece. 

Chattanooga has taken the first three games of the series, and won a season-high six straight games.  For the second time in the series the Suns scored the first run but ended up on the losing end.  Jacksonville is now 17-4 this season when scoring the first run of the game.  The Suns have been outscored 19-9 during their four game losing streak, and overall the Suns have just five wins in 21 games and have fallen into fifth place in the South Division.  The Lookouts increased their season-high winning streak to six games. 

Game four of the series is Saturday night with the first pitch slated for 7:15 p.m. from AT&T field in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  RHP Matthew Neil (0-0, 3.60) will make his second start of the season for the Suns.  Neil made his double-A debut May 20 against Pensacola, allowing two runs on five hits over five innings and did not figure in the decision.  The Lookouts will send RHP Nathon Eovaldi (2-2, 3.18) to the mound for his ninth start of the season.

 

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Suns Comeback Falls Short Against Blue Wahoos

Suns right fielder Kyle Jensen drove in two runs with a double in the seventh inning. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos jumped out to a big lead over the Jacksonville Suns and held on for a 6-5 win at the Baseball Grounds on Saturday night.  The Suns have now lost seven of the last eight home games. 

In a rough first inning for Suns starter Graham Taylor, the first three batters of the game for Pensacola had a hit.  Ryan LaMarre led off the game with a double, and Didi Gregorius singled to put runners on first and third.  Brodie Greene delivered the game’s first run with a single to give Pensacola a 1-0 lead.  With one out, David Vidal singled to left field with Gregorius scoring to increase the lead to 2-0.  In the inning, the Blue Wahoos had scored two runs on five hits. 

The Blue Wahoos doubled their lead in the fifth, when Joel Guzman swung at the first pitch he saw from Taylor and hit his sixth home run of the season, a two-run blast into the right field stands.  Guzman has plenty of power, he led all of double-A baseball in 2010 when he hit 33 home runs for the Bowie Baysox.  It’s the fourth home run that Graham Taylor has allowed this season. 

While his teammates padded the lead, Pensacola starter Kyle Lotzkar cruised through four innings allowing just two singles.  He was replaced by reliever Mark Serrano in the fifth inning.  The only two Suns players with hits against Lotzkar were Jake Smolinski and Chris Gutierrez.  After the game, Gutierrez was promoted to triple-A New Orleans. 

Pensacola scored two more runs in the seventh off of reliever Kyle Kaminska to take command of the game.  LaMarre once again led off the inning with his second double of the game, and Brodie Greene drove him in to make it 5-0.  Joel Guzman then singled to drive in Greene for a 6-0 Pensacola advantage. 

In the bottom of the seventh, the Suns came to life against a Pensacola bullpen struggling with control.  Paul Gran led off the inning when he was hit in the shoulder by Mark Serrano.  Jeff Dominguez singled moving Gran to third, and Dominguez took second on a throw to the infield.  Jake Smolinski knocked in the Suns first run with an infield single for his 10th run batted in this season to make it 6-1.  With two outs, Kyle Jensen double to left and to drive in two runs with Dominguez and Smolinski scoring to cut the lead in half with the Blue Wahoos in front 6-3. 

Reliever Wilkin De La Rose entered the game and struggled to find the plate.  He walked three straight batters as Jake Jefferies, Russell Mitchell, and pinch-hitter Curt Smith all were given a free pass.  Smith’s walk came with the bases loaded to force in a run, and the Suns trailed 6-4.  Paul Gran started the inning when he was hit by a pitch, and at the plate for the second time in the inning he was hit by the first pitch from De La Rosa to force in another run and Jacksonville had cut the Blue Wahoos lead to 6-5.  The Suns sent 11 men to the plate and scored five runs on just three hits in the inning.   

The Suns stranded a season-high 13 runners on base, and twice during the night left the bases loaded.  Jacksonville center fielder Ryan Patterson struck out and flied out with the bases loaded and is now 0-for-4 this season with the bases full. 

Suns starter Graham Taylor pitched six innings, allowing eight hits and four runs to fall to 2-4.  He had allowed a total of four runs in his last two starts.  Taylor is 1-3 at the Baseball Grounds this season.  Mark Serrano pitched two and a-third innings, allowing one hit and two runs and earned the win to improve his record to 3-0.  Donnie Joseph pitched the ninth for his league-leading ninth save of the season.  He has closed the door on the Suns in each of the last two games. 

With the loss, Jacksonville is now 8-15 at the Baseball Grounds this season.  The Suns fell to 3-21 when allowing the first run of the game, and are now 9-9 in games decided by a single run.  Jacksonville is 3-10 against team’s from the South Division in the month of May. 

The Blue Wahoos collected 13 hits on the night, with eight players recording at least one.  Ryan LaMarre finished 3-for-4 with two doubles and scored two runs.  LaMarre is batting .306 on the road this season with 15 runs scored,  10 extra-base hits, and six stolen bases.  LaMarre swiped his 12th base of the season on Saturday, and is now seventh in the league in stolen bases.  Brodie Greene, Joel Guzman, and David Vidal had two hits apiece.  For the Suns, Jeff Dominguez and Jake Smolinski each finished 2-for-4 with a run scored.  Kyle Jensen drove in two runs for the Suns.  Paul Gran, Curt Smith, and Jake Smolinski each drove in a run. 

The Suns will look to get back on track on Sunday afternoon with new arrival Matt Neil on the mound.  The right-hander is schedule to make his first start double-A start.  RHP Daniel Corcino (2-2, 3.64) takes the hill for his ninth start of the year for Pensacola. The first pitch from the Baseball Grounds is 3:05PM ET and can be seen on CW-17 in Jacksonville.

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Biscuits Walk-Off With 3-2 Win

Biscuits starter Shane Dyer allowed just one hit over seven innings against the Suns at Riverwalk Stadium. Photo Courtesy: Montgomery Biscuits

By Steve Kolbe

 
The Montgomery Biscuits edged the Jacksonville Suns 3-2 in walk-off fashion at Riverwalk Stadium on Monday night.
 
The Suns took a 1-0 lead in the second inning off of Biscuits starting pitcher Shane Dyer when Kyle Jensen hit a solo home run over the left field wall.  Jensen is tied for the team lead with five home runs this season, and he has hit the Suns last three round-trippers.  That pitch to Jensen was the only mistake that Dyer would make in the game.  He pitched seven innings allowing just that one hit.
 
Montgomery took the lead in the bottom half of the fourth against Suns left-hander Graham Taylor when Omar Luna led off the inning with a bunt single, and Kyeong Kang followed with a double to put runners on second and third with no outs.  An error cost the Suns three runs in their 7-1 loss on Sunday night, and once again a miscue opened the door for Montgomery.  Michael Sheridan hit a line drive to second, but the ball went under Paul Gran’s glove for an error with both Luna and Kang scoring on the play to put the Biscuits in front 2-1.
 
After cruising through seven innings with a one-hitter, Shane Dyer turned the game over to Biscuits closer Adam Liberatore.  In the ninth inning pinch-hitter Ryan Patterson and Jake Smolinski both singled to left, and for the second time in the series Liberatore was on the ropes in the ninth.  This time he didn’t escape, with Kyle Skipworth hitting a ground ball to first baseman Michael Sheridan, who threw the ball into left field trying to start a double play.  On the error, Patterson scored all the way from second base and the game was tied 2-2.
 
In the home half of the ninth, Sheridan put the error he committed behind him by leading off the inning with a single off of Suns reliever Kyle Kaminska.  A sacrifice bunt by Greg Sexton then moved Sheridan to second base.  After an intentional walk to Brad Coon and a walk on for pitches by Mark Thomas the bases were loaded for one of the top prospects in the Rays system and all of minor league baseball.  And Hak-Ju Lee didn’t disappoint the home crowd, swinging at the first pitch he saw from Kaminska in the ninth and driving it into center field for the walk-off single to give the Biscuits a 3-2 win.  The winning run was scored by Sheridan, who had committed the error that allowed the Suns to tie the game in the top of the inning.
 
Both starters pitched seven innings and didn’t figure in the decision.  Graham Taylor allowed seven hits and two runs(one earned)while walking only one batter.  Shane Dyer allowed just one hit, struck out a season-high five batters and walked one.  Dyer entered the game with a 2.18 ERA, fifth-best in the Southern League.  Montgomery improve to 15-0 when leading a game heading into the ninth inning.
 
Adam Liberatore pitched the final two innings earning the win to improve to 3-2.  He also has a save in the series.  Kyle Kaminska lost a game for the first time since April 11th.  He pitched the eighth and ninth for the Suns, allowing three hits and the game winning run.  
   
Hak-Ju Lee finished 3-for-5 with three singles and now leads the league with 158 plate appearances.  Lee had just two hits in his last 15 at-bats entering the game.  Omar Luna and Michael Sheridan each collected two of the Biscuits 10 hits in the game.  
 
The Suns have dropped eight of their last nine games, and in the last two games against the Biscuits have just seven hits.  Jacksonville lost for just the second time this season when scoring first (15-2).
 
The Suns will send RHP Omar Poveda (3-1, 6.08) to the mound for the series finale on Tuesday morning.  The Biscuits turn to LHP Kyle Lobstein (2-2, 6.32) with the first pitch scheduled for 11:35PM ET from Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Alabama.

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Suns Drop Fourth Straight To BayBears

 

Alfredo Marte hit an opposite-field two-run home run in the seventh inning to give the BayBears a 2-0 win over the Suns. Marte leads the Southern League with eight home runs. Photo Courtesy: Mobile BayBears

 

By Steve Kolbe

The Mobile BayBears once again used a strong pitching performance to shutout the Jacksonville Suns 2-0 on Wednesday afternoon, and extend their lead in the South Division to four games. 

The Suns have been outscored 21-2  in the series by the BayBears, and Jacksonville has been shutout twice in the last four games including 11-0 in the series opener.   Mobile hurlers have limited Jacksonville batters to just 18 hits in the four games, with only three of the hits for extra bases with three doubles.  The Suns are 1-for-20 with runners in scoring position during their losing streak.  The BayBears have 33 total hits in the four games, and are 11-for-30 with runners in scoring position.

The afternoon featured a pitching rematch from and an April 23rd game where Graham Taylor and Chase Anderson combined to allow just five hits and no runs in a game the Suns won 7-0.  Again, the starters stole the spotlight on Wednesday. Chase Anderson allowed just four hits in his six innings of work for the BayBears, and Graham Taylor allowed just one single until the seventh inning.  

In the seventh, Marc Krauss led off the inning with a single and then Taylor made his only mistake of the day.  Alfredo Marte swung at the first pitch he saw in the seventh and smashed a two-run home run into the right field stands to give Mobile a 2-0 lead.  It was Marte’s eighth round tripper of the season.  His eight home runs and 25 runs batted in are tied for the most in the Southern League.   

The BayBears have won four straight games for the first time since their first four games of the season.  The Suns have lost four in a row to tie their season high.  The last time Jacksonville dropped four straight was also at the Baseball Grounds April 10-13 against Chattanooga.  

The Suns have been shutout three times this season, all at home.  The BayBears pitching staff has now tossed four shutouts on the year, two against Jacksonville and two against Mississippi.  Jacksonville has lost six of the last seven games to fall to 17-17 on the season.  The Suns have been outscored 41-18 in the seven games.  The BayBears improved to 21-13 and now have the most wins in the league.

Chase Anderson improved his record to 2-0, with both of his wins coming on the road.  Over 13 innings in his two starts against the Suns this season, Anderson has allowed just seven hits and no runs while striking out 17.  Evan Marshall pitched the ninth to earn his second save of the series and sixth of the season.  Graham Taylor pitched six and two-thirds innings and allowed just three hits but falls to 2-3 on the year.  He struck out five and walked only one batter. 

The Suns will look to salvage the final game of the series on Thursday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.  RHP Omar Poveda (3-1, 6.08) will make his sixth start of the season with the first pitch scheduled for 7:35PM.  Poveda allowed 10 hits and seven runs in his last start at Birmingham but earned the win when the Suns exploded for 11 runs.  RHP Brett Lorin (0-2, 3.26) is set to make his third start of the season for the BayBears. 

 

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