Tag Archives: Jake Smolinski

Suns Eliminated From Playoff Contention

 

Graham Taylor(above)allowed six hits in his final start of the season in the Suns 3-2 rain-shortened six inning loss to the Generals.

Graham Taylor(above)allowed six hits in his final start of the season.  Jacksonville fell 3-2 to the Jackson Generals in six innings at Pringles Park.

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns quest for a playoff birth in the second half of the season came to an end on Saturday night, with a 3-2 loss to the Jackson Generals in a six inning rain-shortened game at Pringles Park.  The loss, combined with the Biscuits 11-4 win over the Stars, eliminated the Suns from playoff contention and vaulted Montgomery to the South Division title in the second half.
 
After waiting through a 23 minute rain delay prior to the first pitch, the Suns jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Paul Gran hit his fifth home run of the season, a solo blast to left field off of Generals starting pitcher Anthony Fernandez.  It was Gran’s first home run since July 7th.  The Suns have scored the first run in all three games in the series, but have lost all three to fall to 51-25 when crossing the plate first.
 
The Generals used the long ball to even the score in the home half of the second inning against Suns lefty Graham Taylor.  Kalian Sams belted his 11th round tripper of the season, a solo shot to left field to tie the game 1-1.  
 
Jackson took the lead for good in the bottom of the third inning when Brad Miller doubled to right field, and Stefen Romero followed with a two-run blast to left-center to make the score 3-1.  Taylor has allowed 18 home runs this season, tied for the most in the Southern League.  The Generals lead the league with 114 home runs, and have had 13 multi-homer games in their last 45 contests. 

In the fifth inning Jake Smolinski led off the inning with his league-leading 78th walk, and Chris Gutierrez singled to put runners on the corners with no outs.  The Generals then summoned Moises Hernandez from the bullpen.  With one out, Kyle Jensen lifted a sacrifice fly to center with Smolinski cruising home to cut the Generals lead to 3-2.

The teams continued to play knowing that severe weather was on the way.  Play was then stopped after Taylor struck out Leury Bonilla to end the sixth inning, and after a delay of 1 hour and 22 minutes due to heavy rain, lightning, and strong wind, the game was ruled complete with Jackson declared the winner.

The Suns have just four wins in their last 14 road games, and fell to 13-20 away from home in the second half.  The Generals continued to improve on the best home record in the league at 44-24, and Jackson has won six straight and 11 of their last 13 games at Pringles Park.

Jose Duarte finished 2-for-2 with a pair of singles for his fifth multi-hit game of the season for the Suns.  Jacksonville left eight runners on base over six innings.  Mike Zunino and Stefen Romero each finished with two hits for the Generals.  Zunino has hit safely in 10 of his first 13 games with Jackson.  Romero has hit safely in 19 of his last 20 games, with eight multi-hit games and six home runs.  He has belted a two-run home run in each of the last two games against the Suns.

Graham Taylor (9-11) allowed three runs on six hits and struck out five over six innings of work.  Taylor finished the season 6-5 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, and 3-6 on the road.  Moises Hernandez (5-2) tossed two hitless innings for the victory.  He’s the older brother of Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez.

The Suns will send RHP Bryan Evans (6-8, 4.59) to the mound for game four of the series on Sunday afternoon at Pringles Park, with the first pitch slated for 3:05 PM.  RHP Taijuan Walker (7-9, 4.31) will start for the Generals.  The Suns finished with a record of 70-70 during the 2011 campaign, and will need to win their final two games to finish at .500 this season.

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Generals Walk-Off With 8-6 Win Over Suns

 

Generals second baseman Stefen Romero's two-run home run in the 12th inning led Jackson to an 8-6 win over the Jacksonville Suns at Pringles Park.

Generals second baseman Stefen Romero’s two-run home run in the 12th inning led Jackson to an 8-6 win over the Jacksonville Suns at Pringles Park.

 By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns rallied from a five-run deficit, but fell to the Jackson Generals 8-6 when Stefen Romero hit a walk-off two-run home run against A.J. Ramos in the 12th inning on Friday night at Pringles Park. The Suns have dropped three straight, and have fallen two games behind the Montgomery Biscuits in the South Division with three games remaining.
 
The Suns took the lead in the first inning for the second straight game.  Jake Smolinski led off the game against Generals starter James Gillheeney by belting his seventh home run of the season, a blast over the 20-foot high left field wall to put the Suns in front 1-0.  Smolinski entered the season with seven career home runs, and he has hit all seven of his round trippers this season in the second half.  The Suns fell to 51-24 when scoring the first run of the game.
 
Suns starter Matthew Neil struck out the first four batters he faced in the game on Friday.  In the third, Jesus Sucre reached on a error by third baseman Zack Cox, Nate Tenbrink walked, and Francisco Martinez singled to load the bases.  With two outs, Stefen Romero singled to left field with both Sucre and Tenbrink scoring to give the Generals a 2-1 edge.  With runners on the corners, Chih-Hsien Chiang hit his first home run in nine games, clearing the bases with a three-run blast to right field to increase the lead to 5-1.  All five of the runs in the inning were unearned.
 
Jackson tacked on a run in the fourth inning, when Joe Dunigan hit his 24th double of the season and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jesus Sucre to make the score 6-1.
 
Jacksonville began the comeback in the fifth inning against Gillheeney, when Jose Duarte hit his second home run of the season to trim the Generals lead to 6-2.  It was Duarte’s first homer since the fourth game of the season, when he belted a pinch-hit two-run home run to give the Suns a 6-5 victory over the Huntsville Stars.
 
In the sixth inning, Zack Cox walked and Ben Lasater doubled to put runners on second and third.  Kyle Jensen then drove in his 78th run of the season with a ground out to inch the Suns closer at 6-3.
 
The Suns completed the comeback in the seventh inning against reliever Jose Jimenez.  Danny Pertusati singled and went to second on a ground out by Duarte.  Alfredo Lopez came through with a single back up the middle, with Pertusati scoring from second to cut the lead to 6-4.  Jake Smolinski doubled and Chris Gutierrez walked to load the bases with one out.  After Zack Cox struck out, Ben Lasater singled to right field, with both Lopez and Smolinski racing home to tie the game 6-6. 
 
Suns closer A.J. Ramos took over on the mound in the ninth inning and was overpowering, striking out seven of the 10 batters he faced going into the bottom of the 12th inning.  With one out, Brad Miller singled and set the stage for Stefen Romero, who hit his 11th homer of the season, a two-run shot over the left field wall to hand the Generals an 8-6 walk-off win.  It was the third walk-off home run for the Generals this season, and first in over three months with the last one on May 21st off the bat of Francisco Martinez against Mobile. 
 
The Suns have just four wins in their last 13 road games and are 13-19 away from home in the second half.  The Generals have the best home record in the league at 43-24, and have won five straight and 10 of their last 12 games at Pringles Park. 
 
Ben Lasater finished 3-for-6 with a pair of RBI, and Jake Smolinski went 3-for-5 with a homer, double, and a single.  Smolinski has hit a lead off home run in the first inning twice this season.  Stefen Romero finished  3-for-6 and drove in four of the Generals eight runs.  Francisco Martinez went 2-for-6 after entering the game with one hit in his previous 20 at-bats.

In his final start of the regular season, Matthew Neil allowed six runs (only one earned) on five hits in 3.2 innings of work.  It was his third straight no decision.  James Leverton, Collin Cargill, and Grant Dayton combined to toss 4.2 scoreless innings for the Suns.  A.J. Ramos (3-3) allowed two runs on two hits in the loss.  Ramos recorded seven of the Suns season-high 18 strikeouts.  Jacksonville’s previous high for strike outs in a game was 15 on April 12th against Chattanooga. 

Generals starter James Gillheeney surrendered three runs on four hits and struck out a season-high 10 batters over 5.2 innings.  Mauricio Robles (2-2) allowed just one single in his three innings of work to earn the win. 

The Suns trail the Montgomery Biscuits by two games in the South Division with three games remaining in the regular season.  The Jackson Generals won the first half in the North Division, and will meet the Chattanooga Lookouts in the playoffs.

The Suns will look to get back into the win column in the middle game of the series on Saturday night, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 PM from Pringles Park.  LHP Graham Taylor (9-10, 3.95) will make his 26th start of the season for the Suns.  Taylor defeated Jackson June 10th at the Baseball Grounds, allowing four hits in 5.0 IP in the Suns 9-0 win over the Generals.  LHP Anthony Fernandez (4-3, 3.25) takes the mound for the Jackson.

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The Suns Fall To Generals 7-3

The Jacksonville Suns fell to the Generals 7-3 at Pringles Park in Jackson, Tennessee August 30, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Jackson Generals

By Steve Kolbe

The Jackson Generals defeated the Jacksonville Suns 7-3 Thursday night in the first game of a five-game series at Pringles Park.  The loss, combined with the Montgomery Biscuits 10-3 win over Huntsville, dropped the Suns one game back in the South Division with four games remaining in the regular season. 

The Suns dented the scoreboard in the first inning against Generals starter James Paxton.  Jake Smolinski led off with a single and Chris Gutierrez followed with a double to start the inning.  Paxton then settled down to strike out both Zack Cox and Ben Lasater.  With two outs, Kyle Jensen delivered with a double off the right field wall with both Smolinski and Gutierrez racing around to score and the Suns had a 2-0 lead.  Jensen is among the league leaders with 77 RBI.  

The Generals didn’t waste any time getting even, and were able to solve Suns starting pitcher Jose Alvarez in the home half of the first inning.  After Alvarez walked Francisco Martinez to start the inning, Brad Miller and Stefen Romero both singled to load the bases with no outs.  This season’s Johnny Bench Award winning catcher Mike Zunino stepped up, and the former Florida Gator lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center field with Martinez coasting home to cut the lead to 2-1.  Alvarez continued to struggle with his control, and a wild pitch allowed Miller to score from third to tie the game 2-2. 

Jackson sent eight men to the plate in the second inning, scoring three more runs to take control of the contest early.  Denny Almonte led off with a single, Francisco Martinez walked, and Brad Miller singled to load the bases for a second straight inning.  Stefen Romero gave the Generals the advantage with a sacrifice fly, with Almonte racing home to make the score 3-2.  Zunino then fell behind in the count to Alvarez 0-2, but went the opposite way for a single to right field with both Martinez and Miller scoring on the play to increase the lead to 5-2.  

Jackson added a run in the fifth on a RBI double by Joe Dunigan, and another in the sixth when Stefen Romero drove in his second run of the night with a single to pad the lead to 7-2.  The top four hitters in the Generals lineup combined for five RBI and scored five times.  

The Suns loaded the bases in the ninth inning with no outs, but scored just one run and fell to the Generals 7-3.  After allowing 15 runs during their five-game winning streak, the Suns have now allowed 14 runs in the last two games.  Jacksonville is 4-8 in the last 12 road games. 

Kyle Jensen finished 2-for-4 and had a hand in all three Suns runs with two RBI and a run scored.  Jensen now has 20 multi-hit games this season.  Brad Miller went 3-for-4 and scored three times for the Generals.  Mike Zunino drove in three of the Generals seven runs.  He has eight RBI in a dozen games with Jackson since being promoted.  The Generals improved to 42-24 at Pringles Park, the best home record in the Southern League.  

Jose Alvarez (6-9) allowed five runs on five hits, walked three and had a wild pitch in 1.2 innings of work, his shortest outing of the season.  Alvarez finished the season with a 2-6 record in his 12 road starts.  James Paxton (9-4) surrendered two runs on four hits over six innings for the win.  Paxton has won six of his last seven decisions, and has just one loss since May 25th.   Logan Bawcom entered the game in the ninth to shut down the Suns rally for his 19th save of the season.

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The Suns Are One-Hit, But Win 1-0

Kyle Skipworth’s RBI-single in the fourth inning was the lone hit for the Jacksonville Suns in a 1-0 win over Biscuits starter Matt Buschmann(above)at Riveralk Stadium August 27, 2012. Photo Coutesy: Montgomery Biscuits

By Steve Kolbe 

The Jacksonville Suns were held to just one single and had just three base runners, but blanked the Montgomery Biscuits 1-0 on Monday night at Riverwalk Stadium to take sole possession of first place in the South Division with six games remaining in the regular season.
 
After dropping nine of the first 12 games against the Biscuits, the Suns have now won 10 straight games over Montgomery, outscoring the Biscuits 52-21.  It’s the Suns longest winning streak against any opponent this season.
 
In a pitchers duel, the Suns plated the lone run of the night in the top of the fourth against Biscuits starter Matt Buschmann.  Jake Smolinski drew a leadoff walk, and Zack Cox walked with one out to put runners on first and second.  Smolinski has walked 73 times this season, tied for second-most in the league.  With two outs, Kyle Skipworth hit ground ball on an 0-2 pitch, past the outstretched glove of second baseman Derek Dietrich, and into right field for the RBI-single to give the Suns a 1-0 lead.  Skipworth has just five hits with runners in scoring position and two outs this season (5-for-47 with six RBI).  He has driven in five runs in the series.
 
Fun Fact:  Kyle Skipworth has had the Suns only single in two one-hitters this season.  One win and one loss.  Jacksonville was shutout 1-0 on a one-hitter April 12th by the Chattanooga Lookouts at the Baseball Grounds, with Skipworth collecting a single in the second inning for the only hit of the game against Aaron Miller, Red Patterson, and Shawn Tolleson.
 
The Suns have won five straight, and eight of the last nine games after a season-high seven game losing streak.  The Biscuits have dropped five in a row, and have just three wins in their last 11 outings.
 
The Suns had their steak of scoring at least five runs in a game snapped at eight.  The Biscuits collected seven hits in the game, with six singles and a triple.  The Biscuits had at least one runner on base in every inning except the second, but had more than one base runner in an inning only once.  Omar Luna finished 3-for-4 and has the third-best batting average in the league this season.
 
The Suns have 14 shutouts during the 2012 campaign, doubling their total of seven from last season.  The Suns have held the Biscuits off the scoreboard four times during their 10-game winning streak against Montgomery:
 
*Graham Taylor and A.J. Ramos combined on a 1-0 win over the Biscuits August 3rd. 
*Four Suns pitchers combined on a two-hitter against Montgomery August 4th. 
*Jose Alvarez tossed a complete-game two-hitter in a 4-0 win over the Biscuits August 7th.
 
Bryan Evans (6-8) put together one of his strongest outings of the season.  He threw 92 pitches, 60 for strikes, and allowed four singles and a triple in his seven innings for the victory.  Evans has won four of his last six decisions, with two of the wins coming at the expense of the Biscuits. 
 
Matt Buschmann (6-8) surrendered a lone RBI-single to Kyle Skipworth in the loss.  Buschmann enticed the Suns into 16 ground outs, and allowed just three base runners in the game, all in the fouth inning.  Kirby Yates pitched the ninth for the Biscuits to combine with Buschmann on the one-hitter.
 
The Suns bullpen slammed the door on the Biscuits.  James Leverton allowed a single in the eighth, and A.J. Ramos pitched the ninth to earn his second save of the series and 21st of the season.  Ramos has the second-most saves in the Southern League. 
 
The win didn’t come without some late-inning drama.  Omar Luna led off the home half of the ninth with a single, went to second on a sacrifice bunt, and took third on a wild pitch by Ramos to increase the tension.  Ramos then retired Kyeong Kang on a fly ball to right field to end the game.  Suns relievers have allowed just nine singles in 18.2 scoreless innings over the last five games.
 
Jacksonville has won the first four games of the series by a combined score of 23-11.  The Suns will look to complete the sweep in the series finale Tuesday night from Riverwalk Stadium, with the first pitch scheduled for 8:05 PM.  RHP Brian Flynn (2-0, 3.41) will step on the mound for the Suns.  RHP Jake Thomspson (7-10, 5.30) gets the call for the Biscuits.

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Suns Stun Biscuits 9-6; One Game Out Of First Place

 

Second baseman Alfredo Lopez drove in four runs in the Suns 9-6 win over the Biscuits at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Alabama. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe 

The Jacksonville Suns scored seven unanswered runs in a 9-6 victory over the Montgomery Biscuits on Saturday night at Riverwalk Stadium.  The Suns have won the first two games of the five-game series to trim the Biscuits lead in the South Division to just one game.

The Suns dented the scoreboard in the first inning against Biscuits starter Shane Dyer.  Chris Gutierrez singled and scored when Zack Cox doubled to left field to put the Suns up 1-0.  The Suns improved to 49-22 when scoring the first run of the game. 

Montgomery stormed back in the home half of the first against Suns pitcher Matthew Neil.  The first three batters of the inning each singled, with Derek Dietrich driving in Ty Morrison to tie the game at 1-1.  A throwing error by Jose Duarte allowed Shawn O’Malley to score to give the Biscuits the edge 2-1.  Ryan Garko then lifted a sacrifice fly to left, with Dietrich coasting across the plate for a 3-1 Biscuits lead. 

The Suns got one back in the top of the second.  Kyle Jensen led off with a walk, and Jose Duarte singled to put runners on first and third.  Alfredo Lopez delivered with a RBI single, with Jensen scoring to cut the lead to 3-2.  Lopez would finish the night 3-for-3 with four runs batted in.  Suns second basemen have thrived ninth in the batting order in the last two weeks.  The four RBI’s by Lopez are the most by a Suns number nine hitter a game this season.  Dallas Poulk was playing second base and batting ninth when he drove in three runs August 19th against Birmingham. 

The Biscuits scored three more runs on three hits in the bottom of the second off of Neil to take command with a 6-2 lead.  Mikie Mahtook drove in two runs with a double, and Ryan Garko plated another with a sacrifice fly.  Montgomery collected eight hits in the first two innings, then just three singles in the last seven. 

The Suns solved Shane Dyer and pulled even in the third.  Kyle Skipworth drove in two runs in the inning with his 16th double of the season to cut the lead to 6-4.  Kyle Jensen scored on a wild pitch to make the score 6-5, and Alfredo Lopez knocked in a run with a single to even the score 6-6.  

Jacksonville scored three runs in the eighth inning with a two-out rally to take a 9-6 lead.  Lopez drove in two runs with a seeing-eye single up the middle, and Jake Smolinski drove in a run with his 23rd double of the season.  The Suns finished with a season-high 16 hits and tied their season-high for doubles in a game with seven.  Jacksonville had at least one base runner in every inning except the fourth, and every player in the Suns lineup reached base at least once in the game. Paul Gran was the only Suns player without a hit, but he reached base when he was hit by a pitch for a league-leading 18th time this season. 

The Suns had six players record a multi-hit game.  Alfredo Lopez and Jose Duarte each finished with three hits.  Chris Gutierrez, Zack Cox, Kyle Skipworth, and Kyle Jensen each collected two hits in the game.  Lopez drove in four to double his RBI total to eight.  Skipworth drove in a pair of runs and now has 59 RBI’s this season.  Ty Morrison went 3-for-3 and scored two runs for the Biscuits.  Ryan Garko and Mikie Mahtook each drove in a pair of runs for Montgomery. 

The Suns have won six of their last seven games, outscoring opponents 50-33.  Jacksonville improved to 21-14 when using the designated hitter.  After dropping nine of the first 12 games in the season series to the Biscuits, the Suns have won eight straight over their division rival by a combined score of 44-18 with three shutouts.  The Suns are a win away from claiming a series for the first time in three trips to Riverwalk Stadium this season. 

Suns starter Matthew Neil allowed and Biscuits starter Shane Dyer did not figure in the decision.  Neil allowed six earned runs on eight hits in just 1.2 innings, his shortest outing of the season.  Dyer surrendered six runs on eight hits in 2.2 innings of work. 

The Suns bullpen combined to pitch 7.1 scoreless innings.  Edgar Olmos allowed just two singles in 3.1 innings after taking over for Neil in the second inning.  Grant Dayton (2-0) tossed three hitless innings for the Suns in the win.  Chris Rearick (2-1) allowed three runs on five hits over two innings in the loss.  A.J. Ramos pitched the ninth to earn his 20th save of the season.

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Suns Flex Their Muscles In Win Over Biscuits

 

Kyle Jensen hit a grand slam, and the Suns rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Biscuits 6-2 at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery August 24, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Montgomery Biscuits 6-2 on Friday night to claim the first game of a pivotal five-game series at Riverwalk Stadium.  Jacksonville is now just two games behind Montogmery in the South Division.  After dropping nine of the first 12 games of the season against the Biscuits, the Suns have won seven straight in the season series by a combined score of 36-12.
 
The Biscuits dented the scoreboard in the third inning against Suns starter Jose Alvarez.  After Mark Thomas was hit by a pitch and Mikie Mahtook walked, Ryan Garko drove in his 38th run of the season with a single to left field with Thomas scoring to put the Biscuits in front 1-0.  Montgomery had a record of 15-4 at home when scoring the first run of the game.  Jacksonville won for just the 18th time when allowing the first run.
 
Montgomery tacked on another run in the home half of the fourth inning.  Omar Luna led off with a doubled and Michael Sheridan singled, with Luna advancing the third base.  Mark Thomas then lifted a sacrifice fly to center, with Luna crossing the plate to increase the Biscuits lead to 2-0.
 
The Suns managed just a single by Ben Lasater in the first four innings against Biscuits starting pitcher Merrill Kelly.  But once again the Suns used the long ball in the comeback.  Kyle Skipworth led off the fifth inning with a solo home run to cut the lead to 2-1.  Skipworth has 20 home runs this season, with four of them at the expense of the Biscuits pitching staff.
 
Kelly ran into trouble in the sixth inning when Alfredo Lopez was hit by a pitch, Jake Smolinski walked, and Chris Gutierrez singled to load the bases with no outs.  Montgomery made the call to the bullpen and summoned C.J. Reifenhauser, and he was able to entice Zack Cox into a force play, but the Suns still had the bases full.  Ben Lasater then delivered with a sacrifice fly to right field, with Smolinski racing in from third to even the score 2-2.  After a mound visit from Biscuits pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein, the stage was set for the Suns to flex their muscles on the road.  Rieferhauser tried to sneak a fastball past Kyle Jensen, who cleared the bases when he smashed his 23rd home run of the season over the high left field wall to put the Suns up 6-2.  It was the Suns 100th home run of the season.  Kyle Jensen has hit a homer in five straight games, and he joined Kyle Skipworth as the only Suns players with a grad slam this season, with both coming on the road.
 
Kyle Jensen went 2-for-4 for his third straight multi-hit game and 16th of the season.  Jensen is third in the league with 75 RBI, and he’s tied for second with 23 home runs, one behind Joe Dunigan of the Jackson Generals.  Jensen has a dozen hits against the Biscuits this season, five of them have been round trippers.   Kyle Skipworth belted his 2oth home run of the season and scored two runs for the Suns.  He has 10 hits this season against the Biscuits, including three home runs.
 
Ryan Garko led the Biscuits going 3-for-4 with three singles.  Omar Luna, Michael Sheridan, and Mark Thomas each collected two hits for Montgomery in the loss. 
 
Jacksonville improved to 10-9 in the season series against Montgomery, and won for just the fourth time at Riverwalk Stadium in 11 games.  The Suns had been outscored 29-13 during a six game road losing streak.
 
The Suns are 20-14 when using the designated hitter, 10-9 against Montgomery.  The Biscuits have lost five of ther last eight games, and their magic number to claim the second half in the South Division remains at eight. 
 
Jose Alvarez (6-8) tossed 101 pitches allowing two runs on 10 hits in the win, with nine of the hits singles.  Omar Luna’s double was the only extra base hit of the game for the Biscuits.  Alvarez won for just the second time on the road this season (2-5).   He is 2-0 this season in his four starts against Montgomery.  Merrill Kelly (7-3) surrendered four runs on just three hits over five innings of work.  Two of his three losses this season have been to the Suns.
 
Game two of the series is Saturday night with the first pitch slated for 8:05 PM from Riverwalk Stadium.  RHP Matthew Neil (2-7, 4.34) will take the mound for the Suns.   LHP Kyle Lobstein (7-6, 4.02) gets the start for the Biscuits.
 

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Suns Take Two From Barons

 

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

By Steve Kolbe

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

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Suns Roll Past Barons 13-7

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

 By Steve Kolbe

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

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Lookouts Fast Start Sinks Suns

 By Steve Kolbe

The Chattanooga Lookouts scored all of their runs in the first three innings in a 9-6 win over the Jacksonville Suns on Wednesday at AT&T Field.  The Suns have allowed 29 runs during their four-game losing streak.
 
The Lookouts came out swinging from the start in the first inning against Suns starter Graham Taylor.  Rafael Ynoa led off with a single to center, and Jake Lemmerman reached on an error by Suns first baseman Ben Lasater.  J.T. Wise then drove in the first run of the night with a sacrifice fly, with Ynoa scoring to put the Lookouts up 1-0.  With two outs, Blake Smith belted his 12th home run of the season, a two-run blast to right-center to increase the lead to 3-0.    
 
The Suns dented the scoreboard in the top of the second against Lookouts starter Aaron Miller.  After singles by Kyle Skipworth and Alfredo Lopez, Jake Smolinski hit a two-out double down the left field line to cut the lead to 3-2.  Smolinski and Chris Gutierrez are tied for the team lead with 21 doubles this season.
 
Chattanooga sent nine men to the plate in the home half of the second inning and exploded for four more runs to make the score 7-2.  Rafael Ynoa drove in a run with a double, and also scored on a throwing error by Suns third baseman Zack Cox.  J.T. Wise provided the big hit in the inning when he smashed a two-run home run to left field.  The Lookouts scored nine runs on 11 hits in the first three innings.  
 
The Suns countered with four runs of their own in the top of the sixth.  After singles by Danny Pertusati and Zach Cox, Kyle Jensen hit his 17th home run of the season and Kyle Skipworth followed with his 17th round tripper of the year, as the Suns hit back-to-back home runs in the inning to cut the lead to 9-6.  Jensen has hit four three-run home runs this season.  But that’s as close as the Suns would get, managing just one hit in the final three innings.
 
Kyle Skipworth went 2-for-3 and was the only Suns player with a multi-hit game.  The Suns have hit a total of six home runs against the Lookouts this season, with Jensen and Skipworth belting three each.  Blake Smith went 3-for-5 with a home run to lead the Lookouts.  J.T. Wise was 2-for-4 and drove in five of the Lookouts runs, the most RBI’s by a single player in a game against the Suns this season.  Rafael Ynoa, Brahiam Maldonado, Griff Erikson, and C.J. Retherford each had two hits.
 
Chattanooga improved to 9-3 against Jacksonville this season.  The Lookouts finished with 15 hits, one shy of the most allowed by the Suns in a single game during the 2012 campaign.
 
Graham Taylor (7-10) allowed nine runs on 11 hits in the loss.  Aaron Miller (6-6) surrendered six runs on seven hits to win for the first time in his last four starts.  Miller has half of his wins at the expense of the Suns, with a record of 3-0.  Steven Ames earned his 16th save of the season for the Lookouts.
 
The middle game of the series is Thursday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:15 PM from AT&T Field in Chattanooga.  RHP Bryan Evans (5-6, 4.15) will try to end the Suns four-game slide, while RHP Allen Webster (5-8, 3.83) will start for the Lookouts.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Matt Magill Shuts Down Suns

 

Matt Magill(above) allowed just two singles and struck out 11 over seven innings of work in the Lookouts 4-1 win over the Jacksonville Suns at AT&T Field. Photo Courtesy: Chattanooga Lookouts

 By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns scored a run in the ninth to avoid begin shutout for the 11th time this season, but fell 4-1 to the Lookouts in the first of a five game series at AT&T Field in Chattanooga.  The Suns are 3-8 against the Lookouts this season.  Since a five-game sweep against the Montgomery Biscuits, the Suns have lost three straight and four of their last five.  The Suns fell into a second place tie with Pensacola, two games behind the first place Biscuits.
 
Suns starter Matthew Neil and Lookouts starter Matt Magill kept the game scoreless for the first six innings, with Neil allowing just four hits and Magill touched for only two singles.  Chattanooga took the lead in the bottom of the seventh with an unearned run.  Luis Nunez led off with a double and scored on a throwing error by Suns first baseman Ben Lasater to put the Lookouts up 1-0.  Lasater fielded Jake Lemmerman’s sacrifice bunt, and when he tried to throw out Nunez at third, the ball sailed into left field.   Jacksonville fell to 15-42 when giving up the first run of the game.
 
The Lookouts added insurance in the bottom of the eighth against Suns reliever Mike Ojala.  The first four batters of the inning each had a hit, starting with J.T. Wise, who led off the inning with his 31st double of the season.  After a single by Blake Smith put runners on first and third, Brahiam Maldonado singled with Wise coasting home to increase the Lookouts lead to 2-0.  Luis Nunez then doubled down the left field line, with Smith coming around to score to make the score 3-0.  Jake Lemmerman tacked on the Lookouts last run with a sacrifice fly, with Maldonado touching the plate and the Lookouts were in command 4-0.
 
Lookouts starter Matt Magill was untouchable, retiring 14 straight Suns batters after Jake Smolinski singled in the third inning.  The Suns scored their lone run in the top of the ninth against Lookouts reliever Chris Withrow.  After walks to Chris Gutierrez and Ben Lasater, Kyle Skipworth drove in his 51st run of the season with a two-out single to center. 
 
Luis Nunez and Blake Smith each finished 2-for-4 for the Lookouts, with Nunez hitting a pair of doubles.  Kyle Skipworth finished with two of the Suns three singles.  Ben Lasater reached base twice with walks.  Chris Gutierrez with a walk, and Jake Smolinski with a single were the only other Suns players to reach base.  The Suns had just four base runners in the first eight innings. 
 
The Suns struck out 16 times in the game, one shy of their season-high of 17 set on May 2nd at Birmingham.  Nine of the 10 Suns players with a plate appearance struck out at least once.  Ben Lasater was the only player that didn’t go down on strikes in the game.
 
Matthew Neil (2-7) allowed one unearned run on five hits in the loss.  Matt Magill (10-6) surrendered just two singles over his seven innings in the win.  Magill stuck out 11 Suns batters, one shy of his season high, to increase his league-leading total to 147 strikeouts.  Magill’s 10 wins are the third-most in the Southern League, with Nicklas Struck of Tennessee leading with 13 wins, and Huntsville’s Josh Stinson second with 11 victories.  Chris Withrow earned his second save of the season. 
 
The Suns will look to get even in the series on Wednesday, with the first pitch slated for 7:15 PM from AT&T Field in Chattanooga.  LHP Graham Taylor (7-9, 3.86) takes the hill for the Suns.  LHP Aaron Miller (5-6, 4.26) will start for the Lookouts.
 
 

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