Tag Archives: Joe Leonard

Suns Slip Past Braves In Ninth

 

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

By Steve Kolbe

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Ahead Of The Curve, Southern League News

Suns Close First Half With 5-0 Loss To Braves

The Suns finished the first half of the 2012 season with a 33-37 record after falling to the Mississippi Braves 5-0 June 17, 2012 at Trustmark Park. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

 
The series finale between the Jacksonville Suns and Mississippi Braves was the last game completed in the first half of the season in the Southern League, with the Braves blanking the Suns 5-0 Sunday night at Trustmark Park.  The Suns finished the first half of the season in fourth place in the South Division with a record of 33-37 (14-21 at home; 19-16 on the road).
 
The Suns have now been held off the scoreboard seven times this season, and were shutout for the third time in the last nine games.  On the season, Jacksonville has come up empty five times at the Baseball Grounds, and twice on the road. 
 
The Braves took the lead for good in the third inning against Suns starter Matthew Neil, scoring two runs on three hits.  Keenan Wiley led off the inning with a line drive single that hit Neil in the knee.  After moving to second base on a ground out, Wiley swiped third for his 10th stolen base of the season.  Joe Leonard then singled to right field, with Wiley crossing the plate to give the Braves a 1-0 lead.  With two outs, Joe Terdoslavich doubled off the wall in left field, with Leonard rumbling all the way around from first to make the score 2-0 Mississippi.
 
The Braves added another run in there fourth inning.  Jason Christian scratched out an infield single and went to second on a wild pitch by Neil.  After Neil retired the next two batters, Keenan Wiley delivered a two out single to left, with Christian scoring to increase the Braves lead to 3-0.
 
In the fifth inning, Joe Leonard led off with a double to left against Suns reliever Bobby Bramhall, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Joe Terdoslavich to put the Braves up by a comfortable 4-0 margin.
 
Mississippi tacked on another run in the seventh against Bramhall with a two out rally.  Joe Leonard drew a walk, and quickly stole second base.  Tim Smith then cashed in with a single up the middle, with Leonard coasting home to make it 5-0.  The Braves finished the first half in last place in the South Division with a record of 30-40.  Mississippi won a series for just the second time this season at home, taking three of the five games from Jacksonville.
 
For the Suns, Chris Gutierrez increased his hit streak to 16 games with a single in the first inning.  He is batting .350 (21-for-60) during his streak with 14 singles, six doubles, and a home run.  The 16-game streak is tied for the longest in the Southern League this season.  Pensacola’s Henry Rodriguez had a 16 game streak earlier in the first half.  The longest hitting streak in Southern League history is 33 games, set in 1987 by Greg Tubbs of Greenville.
 
The Suns finished the game with six hit, with Jake Smolinski’s seventh inning double the only hit for extra bases.  For the Braves Joe Leonard finished 2-for-3, drove in a run and scored three of the five runs.  Joe Terdoslavich and Jason Christian each had two hits for the Braves.
 
Matthew Neil (1-2) pitched three and two-thirds innings and lost his second straight start.  He left the game after being hit for a third time by a ball hit back up the middle.  Neil allowed three runs on six hits and walked two batters.  Sean Gilmartin (5-6) tossed six innings and allowed just three hits in the win. 
 
With the loss, the Suns missed a chance to join Mobile and Montgomery as the only teams in the league with 20 road wins in the first half.  Jacksonville finished 19-16 on the road, with nine of the 19 victories by one run.
 
The Suns begin the second half of the season against the Tennessee Smokies at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville beginning Thursday June 21st, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:35 p.m.
 

Leave a comment

Filed under Ahead Of The Curve, Southern League News

Suns Win Series Opener Over Braves

 

The Suns topped the Mississippi Braves 6-3 in the first meeting of the season between the two teams June 13, 2012 at Trustmark Park. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe 

Shortstop Chris Gutierrez increased his hit streak to a dozen games, and the Suns claimed game one of their final series of the first half, with a 6-3 win over the Mississippi Braves on Wednesday night at Trustmark Park.
 
Jacksonville took the lead in the second inning against Braves starter Zeke Spruill.  With one out, Kyle Jensen hit his 11th double of the season, and Kyle Skipworth singled to center behind him to give the Suns a 1-0 lead.  The Suns improved to 25-4 this season when scoring the first run of the game.
 
In the bottom of the second, the Braves drew even on three singles.  After base hits by Todd Cunningham and Joe Leonard put runners on the corners against Suns righty Omar Poveda, a two-out base knock by Barrett Kleinknecht drove in Cunningham to tie the game 1-1.
 
The Suns reclaimed the lead in the third inning helped by some suspect defense.  After Chris Gutierrez doubled and advanced to third on a throwing error by left fielder Tim Smith, Jake Smolinski plated Gutierrez with a ground out, and the Suns had a 2-1 advantage.
 
Once again, Mississippi came right back in the home half of the inning with two extra base hits against Poveda.  Keenan Wiley led off the inning when he tripled off the wall in right field.  A batter later, Joe Terdoslavich doubled to right, with Wiley cruising home to even the score 2-2.
 
In the fourth, Joe Leonard gave the Braves their only lead of the night when he led off the inning smashing his third home run of the season over the right field wall to give Mississippi at 3-2 edge.  The Braves have hit just 22 round trippers this season. 
 
Jacksonville took advantage of two errors in the sixth inning to take the lead for good.  Kyle Jensen walked and Kyle Skipworth singled to put runners on first and third with one out.  Then the Braves came unglued.  Jeff Dominguez hit a grounder that first baseman Joe Terdoslavich couldn’t handle, with Jensen scoring from third base on the miscue to tie the game 3-3.  Skipworth was on the move from first and never stopped, rumbling all the way around to score on a throwing error by right fielder Keenan Wiley, and the Suns were back in front 4-3.
 

The Suns score two insurance runs in the ninth inning against relief pitcher Andrew Russell.  With one out, Paul Gran and Jose Duarte both singled  to put runners on the corners.  Donnie Webb hit a deep fly ball to right field, with Gran scoring on the sacrifice to pad the lead to 5-3.  Gutierrez then completed another big night with his second double of the game, driving in Duarte from third and giving the Suns a comfortable 6-3 lead.  The Suns are 17-0 this season when scoring six or more runs in a game.

For the Suns, Chris Gutierrez finished 2-for-5, drove in a run and also scored.  He extended his hit streak to 12 games with his eighth multi-hit game of the season.  Kyle Skipworth went 3-for-4, with a run scored, and added his 29th RBI of the year.  It’s the third time this season that Skipworth has had three or more hits in a game.  Paul Gran had two singles for his sixth multi-hit game.  Joe Leonard provided most of the offense for the Braves, collecting three of the their seven hits. 

Omar Poveda won his third straight decision to improve to 6-2.  He pitched six and two-thirds innings, allowing three runs on six hits.   Poveda hasn’t lost since being shuffled back to first in the Suns pitching rotation.  Suns All-Star A.J. Ramos entered the game with two outs in the eighth inning, and slammed the door on the Braves the rest of the way for his fourth save of the season. 

Mississippi starter Zeke Spruill suffered the loss to drop to 5-6 on the season.  He allowed four runs, but only one earned, on six hits in his seven innings of work.  He was the victim of the shaky fielding behind him.  Spruill matched his season high by striking out eight Suns batters.

The Suns improved their road record to 18-13.  Overall, Jacksonville has won five of the last seven games.  The Braves have now dropped nine of their last 12, and will finish last in the South Division.

Game two of the series is Thursday from Trustmark Park with the first pitch scheduled for 7:00 p.m. local time.  The Suns will hand the ball to LHP Jose Alvarez (1-3, 4.19) for his 12th start of the season.  The Braves send RHP Gary Moran (1-5, 3.50) to the mound for his 10th start of the year.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ahead Of The Curve, Southern League News