Kyle Skipworth(above)collected three extra-base hits, including his 12th home run of the season, in the Suns 6-4 victory over the Tennessee Smokies. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns
By Steve Kolbe
In a seesaw affair at the Baseball Grounds, the Suns snapped the Tennessee Smokies three game winning streak with a 6-4 victory on Thursday night. Jacksonville is now four games behind South-leading Montgomery.
Tennessee collected three hits against Suns starter Brian Flynn to take the lead in the first inning for the second straight game. Junior Lake began the game with a single to right field, and Jae-Hoon Ha hit a base knock to put runners on first and third. With one out, Justin Bour drove in his 77th run of the season with a single, with Lake cruising home to put the Smokies in front 1-0. The Smokies entered the game with a record of 32-20 when scoring the first run, the Suns just 12-38 when falling behind.
The Suns scored the equalizer in the home half of the first against Smokies starter Dallas Beeler. Danny Pertusati and Jeff Dominguez both singled to center to put runners on the corners with one out. Kyle Jensen then singled to drive in Pertusati to even the score at 1-1. Each team had a carbon copy first inning, scoring a run on three singles.
The Suns have scored 56 runs this season in the first, the most runs they have plated in any inning.
Tennessee edged in front in the third inning, when Dustin Harrington led off with his first triple of the season, and he scored when Junior Lake doubled down the third base line to make the score 2-1. Lake had a hand in nine straight Smokies runs over two games up to that point, with five RBI’s and four runs scored.
The long ball took center stage in the fourth inning, with both teams trading home runs. Justin Bour belted his 10th home run of the season to increase the Smokies lead to 3-1. With the RBI, Bour took over the Southern League lead with 78 runs batted in. The Smokies have hit eight home runs against seven different Suns pitchers in the first three games of the series.
Kyle Skipworth answered in the home half of the fourth when he muscled a solo home run, a blast to right-center that barely cleared the high wall to bring the Suns within a run. Skipworth has hit five round trippers in his last seven games, and is tied with Kyle Jensen for the team lead with 12 homers on the season. The Suns catcher has surpassed his total from the 2011 campaign, when he finished with 11 home runs in 106 games.
Jacksonville took the lead for the first time in the game in the bottom of the fifth. Jeff Dominguez singled and went to second on a throwing error by Smokies first baseman Justin Bour. Dominguez then scored from second base to even the score 3-3, when Kyle Jensen singled to left and Greg Rohan over ran the ball. Skipworth continued his torrid pace when he put the Suns ahead 4-3 with a double to right-center, with Jensen rumbling around to score.
After the Smokies tied the game 4-4 on a solo home run by Greg Rohan in the top of the sixth, the Suns once again had an answer in the home half of the inning. Donnie Webb led off with his eighth triple of the season against relief pitcher Tony Zych. Jose Duarte came through with a pinch-hit single to put runners on first and third. Webb scored the go-ahead run when Zych threw a wild pitch all the way to the backstop, and the Suns were up 5-4. With two outs in the inning, Jeff Dominguez hit his third single of the night to drive in Duarte from second to pad the Suns lead to 6-4.
Kyle Skipwoth went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a home run, drove in two runs and scored another. Jeff Dominguez finished 3-for-5 with three base hits. Every Suns batter, including pitcher Brian Flynn reached base at least once in the game. For the Smokies, Junior Lake went 3-for-5 for his fifth straight multi-hit game. Nate Samson also had three singles for Tennessee. The two teams combined for 25 hits on Thursday, and in the series the Smokies have had at least 11 hits in every game.
In an unfortunate incident in the bottom of the fourth inning, Kyle Jensen hit a fly ball down the right field line with Smokies right fielder Jae-Hoon Ha giving chase. The ball landed in the stands, but Ha collided with the wall hitting his chin with his head snapping back before he fell to the warning track. Ha was given medical attention on the field by trainers from both teams as well as medical personnel on site. An ambulance was summoned and Ha was taken to Shands Hospital.
Lefty Brian Flynn made his first appearance with the Suns after being acquired by the Marlins from Detroit in a deal that sent Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers. He allowed four runs on 11 hits over 5.2 innings of work. James Leverton (2-0) entered the game in the top of the sixth with two on and two outs. He retired Junior Lake on a grounder to short, and with the out would earn his second win of the season. A.J. Ramos pitched the ninth and locked down his 14th save of the season. Smokies starter Dallas Beeler allowed four runs on eight hits over his five innings and didn’t figure in the decision. He struck out a season-high eight batters. Tony Zych (0-1) surrendered two runs on five hits in the loss.
Game four of the series is Friday with the first pitch slated for 7:05 p.m. from the Baseball Grounds. LHP Jose Alvarez (3-5, 3.91) is set to start his 18th game of the season for the Suns.