Tag Archives: Justin Bour

Suns Top Smokies; Win Third Straight Series

 

The Suns defeated the Smokies 8-5 at the Baseball Grounds to take three of five games in the series. Jacksonville won all three series against Tennessee during the season. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies

By Steve Kolbe

After losing the first two games against Tennessee, the Suns won their third straight over the Smokies 8-5 on Saturday night at the Baseball Grounds.  The Suns took eight of the 13 games against the Smokies during the season, and won all three series.
 
The Suns took the lead in the first when Jake Smolinski led off with a double and Chris Gutierrez singled behind him to put runners on first and third before Smokies starter Nick Struck could record an out.  Paul Gran then lifted a sacrifice fly to right scoring Smolinski to put the Suns up 1-0.  Jacksonville improved to 23-9 when scoring a run in the first inning.
 
Gutierrez and Gran each drove in a run in the third to increase the Suns lead to 3-0, and in the fourth Alfredo Lopez hit a RBI-single to make the score 4-0.  It was the second straight game that the Suns jumped out to a 4-0 advantage.
 
Smokies first baseman Justin Bour drove in a run in the fifth against Suns starter Graham Taylor with a single to cut the lead to 4-1.  But the Suns scored three more times in the sixth inning against reliever Trey McNutt to pad the lead to 7-1.
 
In the top of the seventh, Bour smashed the Smokies first grand slam of the season off of Suns reliever Kyle Kaminska to edge Tennessee closer at 7-5.  Bour drove in all five of the Smokies runs in the game.  The Suns added a run in the home half of the seventh for the 8-5 final.
 
Graham Taylor (6-8) allowed one run on five hits in six innings for the win.  James Leverton pitched the ninth for his first save of the season.
 
Jake Smolinski went 3-for-5 with two RBI’s and scored three runs.  It’s the third time this season that Smolinski has hit three doubles in a game.  Chris Gutierrez and Donnie Webb each collected three hits.  The first three batters in the Suns lineup combined to drive in six of the Suns eight runs on the night.
 
The Suns open a five-game series against the Mobile BayBears at Hank Aaron Stadium on Sunday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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Skipworth Powers Suns Past Smokies

 

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.   
 

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Smokies Slug Three Home Runs To Down Suns

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

 By Steve Kolbe

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

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Smokies Defeat Suns 9-2

Tennessee third baseman Greg Rohan(above)hits one of the Smokies three home runs in a 9-2 win over the Jacksonville Suns July 24, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies

 By Steve Kolbe

The Tennessee Smokies hit three home runs in a 9-2 win over the Suns on Tuesday night in the first of a five game series at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
 
The Suns jumped in front 1-0 in the second inning against Smokies starter Eric Jokisch.  Paul Gran led off with his third triple of the season, and scored when Donnie Webb bunted for a base hit to drive in his 32nd run of the year.  The Suns fell to 37-16 when scoring the first run of the game. 
 
The Smokies tied the game 1-1 in the top of the third against Suns starter Matthew Neil, when Junior Lake belted his fifth home run of the season.  Tennessee added a run in the fifth when Nelson Perez led off with a single, and scored on Lake’s double to right-center to put the Smokies ahead for good at 2-1. 
 
Suns reliever James Leverton entered the game in the sixth inning, and after Mike Burgess was hit by a pitch, Mike Brenly hit a two-run blast to increase the Smokies lead to 4-1.  Leverton has allowed four home runs in his last two appearances.
 
The Smokies doubled the lead in the eighth inning when they batted around and scored four more runs against Suns relief pitcher Jon Link.  Justin Bour singled and Greg Rohan doubled to put runners on second and third.  Mike Burgess was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs.  With the infield in, Mike Brenly hit the ball hard to shortstop Chris Gutierrez, with the ball going into the outfield and two runs crossing the plate on the error to pad the Smokies lead to 6-1.  Nelson Perez drove in a run with a double, and Logan Watkins added an RBI-single and the score was 8-1 Tennessee.  The first five batters in the inning reached base. 
 
Jeff Dominguez led off the eighth inning with a walk, and scored on a throwing error by second baseman Logan Watkins for the Suns final run of the night to make the score 8-2.  Greg Rohan launched a solo home run in the ninth inning for the Smokies to make the final 9-2.  The nine runs are the most that the Smokies have scored in a game this season against the Suns.
 
Suns starter Matthew Neil (1-6) allowed two runs on six hits in his five innings of work and has now lost six straight decisions.  Eric Jokisch (6-2) surrendered one run on four hits over five innings for the win.  The Smokies have won two straight games after a season-high six game losing streak.
 
Game two of the series is Wednesday afternoon with the first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m.  RHP Bryan Evans (3-6, 3.99) will start for the Suns.  RHP Dallas Beeler (4-6, 4.11) takes the mound for the Smokies.
 

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Suns Win On Independence Day

Suns starter Zack Neal(4-6)allowed two runs on seven hits over seven innings. The only runs he allowed were on a two-run home run by Greg Rohan(above)in the first inning. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies

By Steve Kolbe

 
The Jacksonville Suns took a two-run lead into the ninth inning and hung on for a 4-3 win over the Tennessee Smokies on Wednesday night at Smokies Park.  The Suns improved to 31-1 when leading going into the ninth.
 
The Suns provided the fireworks in the first inning against Smokies starter Dallas Beeler.  Chris Gutierrez hit a solo home run to left to put the Suns in front 1-0.  With the blast, Gutierrez established a new career high with four home runs on the year.  It’s the first time since 2008 that he’s had more than two in a season.  With two outs, Kyle Skipworth reached on an error when Beeler dropped a throw at first base.  Jeff Dominguez then drove in Skipworth with a single to left to increase the lead to 2-0.  The Suns have scored at least one run in the first inning 29 times this season, with a record of 19-9 when they cross the plate in the first.
 
Tennessee drew even in the home half of the first against Suns starter Zach Neal.  After Jim Adduci singled, Greg Rohen belted his first Double-A home run, a two-run blast to left field to tie the game 2-2.  Rohen had hit a career-best 12 home runs for the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League before he was promoted to the Smokies on July 2. 
 
In the fourth inning, Jeff Dominguez doubled to the left field corner, and scored when Shawn Bowman drove in his 40th run of the season with a single to center to give the Suns the edge 3-2.  Bowman is the first Suns player this season to reach the 40 RBI mark.
 
Jacksonville tacked on another run in the fifth inning.  Gutierrez led off with an infield single, and Skipworth singled to put runners on the corners with one out.  Jeff Dominguez hit a ground ball to short, with Gutierrez racing home with an important run to give the Suns a 4-2 advantage.   
 
After collecting five hits in the first two innings, the Smokies were held to just two hits from the third until the ninth inning against Suns pitchers Zach Neal and Kyle Kaminska.  In the ninth, Jae-Hoon Ha led off with a single, and stole second base.  Kaminska then struck out Jim Adduci, and enticed Greg Rohen into a ground out, but couldn’t get the final out.   
 
With two away, the Southern League’s top RBI man Justin Bour added to his total by driving in Ha with a single to left to cut the Suns lead to 4-3.  Bour now has 61 runs batted in this season.  Jacksonville summoned closer A.J. Ramos from the bullpen, and he issued just his eighth walk of the season when he put pinch hitter Jaun Apodaca on base.  With runners on first and second, Ramos denied the Smokies the game-tying run when he struck out Mike Brenly to end the game.
 
The Suns have won three straight over the Smokies.  Tennessee manager Buddy Bailey has 1,599 career wins over 24 seasons as a minor league manager.  His next win will make him one of just four active managers with at least 1,600 victories.
 
Left handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen was scheduled to start for the Suns, but the Marlins traded him along with third baseman Matt Dominguez to the Houston Astros in exchange for 36-year-old slugger Carlos Lee.  Rasmussen, the Marlins second round pick in the 2010 draft,  was 4-7 with a 3.90 ERA in 16 starts for Class A Jupiter this season.  Dominguez was batting .234 with seven home runs and 46 RBI’s with Tiple-A New Orleans.  He was the Marlins first round draft pick in 2007.
 
Zach Neal (4-6) was pressed into service and started his ninth game of the season.  Neal allowed two runs on seven hits over seven innings, six singles and a home run.  A.J. Ramos recorded the final out for his seventh save.  Smokies starter Dallas Beeler (3-6) allowed four runs on nine hits in four and a-third innings of work, and lost for the first time in five weeks.
 
Chris Gutierrez finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored.  Jeff Dominguez went 2-for-4 with two RBI’s.  Justin Bour was the only Smokies player with more than one hit.  Eight of Tennessee’s nine hits were singles.  The Suns have had 31 of their 84 games this season decided by a single run, with a 14-17 record.
 
Game two of the series is Thursday night from Smokies Park with the first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m.  RHP Matthew Neil (1-3, 5.53) will start his eighth game of the season for the Suns.  He’s lost his last three decisions.  LHP Eric Jokisch (3-1, 3.25) will take the mound for Tennessee.  He suffered his first loss of the season June 25 at Jacksonville, when he allowed 10 runs on nine hits in a relief appearance in the Suns 11-3 win.
 
 
 

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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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Suns Ninth Inning Rally Falls Short

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

By Steve Kolbe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Smokies Down Suns To Start Second Half

Suns left fielder Jake Smolinski provided the only offense for the Suns when he hit hit his first home run of the season in the first inning against the Tennessee Smokies June 21, 2012 at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

 By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns finished the first half of the season 14-21 at home, and began the second half of the season falling to the Tennessee Smokies 3-1 on Thursday night at the Baseball Grounds.
 
The Suns scored their only run of the night in the first inning, when Jake Smolinski hit his first home run of the season off Smokies starter Nick Struck to put Jacksonville in front 1-0.  The Suns have scored at least one run in the first inning 19 times this season, and now have a record of 15-4 when crossing the plate in the first. 
 
The Smokies grabbed the lead in the third inning against Suns starter Omar Poveda.  Logan Watkins led off with a single, and Junior Lake singled behind him.  With one out, Justin Bour singled to right field with Watkins scoring to tie the game 1-1.  Bour leads the Southern League with 53 runs batted in.  Nelson Perez then put the Smokies in front with a sacrifice fly to center field, with Lake cruising home to give the Smokies a 2-1 edge.
 
Tennessee added another run in the fourth inning when Matthew Cerda led off with a single, and later scored on a Logan Watkins RBI single to increase the advantage to 3-1.
 
For the Suns, shortstop Chris Gutierrez went 0-for-4 and his hit streak came to an end at 16 games.  It’s the first time since May 30th that Gutierrez has been held without a hit.  For the Smokies, Junior Lake went 4-for-5 with three singles and a double.  It was his first four-hit game of the season. 
 
Suns starter Omar Poveda (6-3) pitched six innings, allowing three runs on nine hits.  The Smokies had at least one in every inning in the game except the sixth.  Nick Struck (8-6) tossed six innings in the win, and is one of just three Souther League pitchers this season with eight victories.  He allowed just two hits, a single and the solo home run to Smolinski.  Marcus Hatley earned his third save of the season.
 
Game two of the series is set for Friday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.  LHP Jose Alvarez (1-4, 4.66) takes the mound for the Suns.  RHP Dae-Eun Rhee (4-2, 5.29) will get the start for the Smokies.
 

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Filed under Ahead Of The Curve, Southern League News