Tag Archives: Matthew Neil

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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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 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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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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Suns Tame BayBears 2-0

 

Suns starter Matthew Neil(above left)pitched six shutout innings, and  Ben Lasater (above right)drove in both runs with a pinch-hit single in the Suns 2-0 win over the Mobile BayBears. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns won their ninth straight home game and a season-high six straight overall, with a 2-0 shutout over the Mobile BayBears on Tuesday night at the Baseball Grounds.  The Suns have outscored their opponents by a combined 47-21 during their home winning  streak.  Four of the last six victories have been by shutout.  Jacksonville is 8-13 against Mobile this season, with each team scoring 71 runs in the season series.  Three of the Suns eight wins have been shutouts.
 
Suns starter Matthew Neil entered the game in search of his first win since June.  He surrendered just five singles over his six innings of work, and only once did he allow more than one base runner in an inning.  Neil and three relievers combined on a five-hitter, all singles.
 
The Suns were held without a hit through the first four innings by BayBears starter Derek Eitel, until Danny Pertusati singled in the fifth inning to give the Suns first hit of the game.  Jacksonville scored the only runs of the night in the bottom of sixth.  Curt Smith and Paul Gran singled to put runners on first and third with one out.  After Kyle Jensen struck out, the BayBears intentionally walked Pertusati to get to the pitcher’s spot.  Ben Lasater emerged from the dugout to pinch hit for Matthew Neil, and after running the count full against Eitel, delivered by smashing a single to center field with both Smith and Gran crossing the plate to give the Suns a 2-0 lead.  Jacksonville improved to 45-18 when scoring the first run of the game.
 
Mobile won eight of the first 10 meetings between the two teams at the Baseball Grounds.  The Suns improved to 17-9 at home in the second half with the win, and are alone in first place for the first time since May 4th.  Jacksonville has won 11 of the last 14 games, limiting opponents to three runs or fewer 10 times.
 
The BayBears fell to 8-18 on the road, and after finishing the first half in the South Division with a 40-30 record,  the BayBears have struggled to a 17-29 record in the second half.
 
Matthew Neil (2-6) allowed five hits over six innings to earn his second Double-A victory, and win his first game since June 1st at Pensacola.  The win is Neil’s first at home this season.  A.J. Ramos entered the game in the eighth inning with two on and one out.  He retired the all five batters that he faced in the game, striking out three, for his 17th save of the season.  Derek Eitel (7-9) allowed two runs on four hits, struck out four and walked six in the loss.  He has dropped five of his last six decisions.
 
Five different Suns players had one hit.  Ben Lasater increased his RBI total to eight by driving in two runs with his single in the sixth inning.  Shortstop Chris Gutierrez had his nine-game hitting streak come to an end.  He went 0-for-1 before leaving the game in the fifth inning after being hit in the left forearm with a pitch.  Evan Frey and Alfredo Marte each finished with two of the BayBears six singles.  The two teams were a combined 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. 
 
Game two of the series is Thursday night from the Baseball Grounds, with the first pitch slated for 7:35 p.m.  LHP Graham Taylor (7-8, 3.81) is scheduled to start for the Suns.  RHP Michael Bolsinger (3-2, 3.78) will take the mound for the BayBears.

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Suns Two-Hit Biscuits For Second Straight Shutout

By Steve Kolbe
 
In a game that was delayed twice by rain for a total of 3 hours and 21 minutes, four Jacksonville pitchers combined on a two-hitter in the Suns 1-0 victory over the Montgomery Biscuits on Saturday night.  The Suns have limited the second-best hitting team in the Southern League to just nine hits in the series, with just one for extra bases.  The Suns have now tossed a pair of two-hitters this season.
 
A day after Graham Taylor and A.J. Ramos combined to blank Montgomery, Matthew Neil and three relievers combined for the Suns 10th shutout of the season.  Eight of the Suns shutouts this season have been at the Baseball Grounds, and eight different Suns pitchers have a shutout win.
 
  The Suns have won five straight home games for the first time this season, and have outscored opponents 23-13 along the way.  Overall, Jacksonville is 14-7 in the last 21 games.  After having just five wins all season when scoring less than three runs in a game (5-37), the Suns have won two straight when being held to under three runs.
 
After the second rain delay of the night, Kyle Skipworth provided the only run of the game in the bottom of the second when he smashed his 15th home run of the season off of Biscuits reliever Marquis Fleming.
Skipworth has hit eight homers and 12 RBI’s in his last 16 games.   Skipworth has surpassed his total from the 2011 campaign, when he finished with 11 round trippers in 106 games. 
 
The Suns have scored the first run of the game in eight of their last nine contests, and have a record of 43-18 when crossing the plate first.  The Suns improved to 20-14 in games played on Saturday and Sunday.
 
Suns starter Matthew Neil didn’t allow a hit in his two innings of work, but wouldn’t return after the second rain delay.  James Leverton (3-0) took over and allowed just two hits and struck out five over four innings for the win.  In his last four appearances, Leverton has two wins and a save.  Edgar Olmos tossed two innings of hitless baseball in his first appearance with the Suns since he started a game April 15th.  Arquimedes Caminero was overpowering in the ninth, retiring all three batters he faced on pop ups, to earn his first save with the Suns.
 
Montgomery had been shutout only twice all season entering the series, and hadn’t suffered a shutout loss in 57 games before arriving in Jacksonville.   After not recording a shutout in a span of 38 games, Jacksonville has two straight for the second time this season (June 10th with 7-0 and 9-0 wins over the Jackson Generals).  Eight different Suns pitchers have earned a win in a Jacksonville shutout this season.
 
The Suns had just three hits in the game.  In addition to the Skipworth’s home run, Alfredo Lopez had a single, and Chris Gutierrez extended his hit streak to six games with a single in the first inning.  He has hit safely in 10 of his last 12 games.  Catcher Mark Thomas had both hits for the Biscuits, the rest of the team went 0-for-25 on the night.
 
The home stand continues Sunday night with game three of the series from the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 PM.  RHP Bryan Evans (3-6, 4.05) will start his 22nd game of the season for the Suns.  RHP Jacob Thompson (7-9, 5.20) takes the hill for the Biscuits.

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BayBears Rally To Down Suns

 

Kyle Greene belted a pinch-hit grand slam in the eighth inning for his first home run of the season to lead the BayBears past the Suns 9-3 at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. Photo Courtesy: Mobile BayBears

By Steve Kolbe

The Mobile BayBears scored nine unanswered runs to defeat the Jacksonville Suns  9-3 on Sunday night at Hank Aaron Stadium.  The BayBears erased a 3-0 deficit to snap a season-high seven game losing streak, and in the process ended the Suns three-game winning streak.  Jacksonville hasn’t won four straight games in three months (April 4th through May 2nd). 
 
Jacksonville took the lead in the second inning against BayBears starter Mike Bolsinger, when Kyle Jensen smashed a towering solo home run to left field to put the Suns up 1-0.  According to Hank Aaron Stadium staff, the home run was the longest hit at “The Hank” this season.  Jensen leads the Suns with 13 round trippers this season. 
 
In the top of the third inning,  after Suns pitcher Matthew Neil drew a walk,  Jake Smolinski hit a two-run home run to increase the lead to 3-0.   Smolinski has hit all three of his home runs in the second half of the season.  Smolinski’a blast ended a stretch in which 10 straight Suns homers had been hit by the trio of Kyle Skipworth, Kyle Jensen, and Donnie Webb.
 
The BayBears put a run on the board in the home half of the third, when Chris Owings connected for a solo home run off of Matthew Neil to cut the Suns lead to 3-1.  Neil tossed six innings allowing just that one run, and was in line for the win to snap his personal six-game losing streak when  the game was put in the hands of the Suns bullpen.
 
Reliever Jordan Conley entered the game for the bottom seventh with a two-run lead, and allowed the first four BayBears batters to reach base.  Ryan Strieby led off with a double, and what followed changed the course of the game.  David Nick hit what appeared to be a routine grounder to second, but the ball took a bad hop and veered severely to the right away from second baseman Alfredo Lopez, with Nick safe with an infield single.    Conley then committed a balk to move the runners to second and third with no outs.  Rossmel Perez singled to drive in Strieby to cut the lead to 3-2, and Dan Kaczrowski followed with a RBI single with Nick crossing the plate to even the score 3-3.  
 
Bobby Bramhall took over for Conley on the mound, and Vladimir Sutil promptly drove in the go-ahead run with a ground out to give the BayBears the lead 4-3.  With Mobile attempting a double-steal, a throwing error by catcher Jake Jefferies allowed a run to score and the BayBears had tacked on another for a 5-3 advantage.  The Suns have blown a three-run leads in a loss just twice this season, both times on the road (May 23rd at Chattanooga and July 29th at Mobile).   
 
In the bottom of the eighth inning  Matt Davidson doubled, Ryan Strieby was hit by a pitch, and David Nick scratched out an infield single to load the bases with no outs.  Bramhall retired the next two batters he faced, but pinch hitter Kyle Greene didn’t allow the Suns to escape the inning, connecting for a two-out grand slam to make the score 9-3.  It was Greene’s first round tripper of the season, and the BayBears fourth grand slam. 
 
After not allowing a grand slam in the first 104 games of the season, the Suns have been nicked for a grand slam in two straight games.  The Baybears won for just the fifth time when trailing after the sixth inning (5-38), while the Suns lost for just the fourth time when leading after six (36-4).
 
The nine runs are the most that the BayBears have scored against the Suns in a game this season.  Mobile has won 11 of 16 games in the season series.  After winning three of the first five games of the year against the BayBears, the Suns have lost 10 of the last 12 meetings.  The Suns are 30-35 against their rivals from the South Division, 9-11 in the second half. 
 
Jake Smolinski, Paul Gran, and Danny Pertusati each finished with two hits for the Suns.  Pitcher Matthew Neil reached base on an error and scored a run.  A Suns starter has reached base in five straight games, and scored a run in three straight.  Every player in the starting lineup for the BayBears had at least one of the 12 hits with Chris Owings, David Nick, and Rossmel Perez each with two. 
 
Neither starter figured in the decision on Sunday night.  Matthew Neil held Mobile to one run on five hits in his six innings of work.  He struck out six without walking a batter.  It’s been a tale of two different season’s for Neil.  He began the year with seven straight wins (6-0 with Jupiter), including a victory in his first Double-A start with the Suns June 6th against Pensacola.  Since June 11th, has made nine starts, and lost six straight decisions.  Jordan Conley (1-3) allowed four runs on four hits in the loss, and didn’t record an out.
 
Mike Bolsinger allowed three runs on five hits over six innings in his ninth start of the season.   Eric Smith (2-0) pitched the seventh inning for Mobile to earn the win.
 
Game two of the series is Monday with the first pitch scheduled for 8:05 p.m. from Hank Aaron Stadium.  RHP Bryan Evans (3-6, 4.15) will start for the Suns.  RHP Brett Lorin (3-6, 4.73) will take the mound for the BayBears.
     

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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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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Biscuits Shut Down Suns 2-1

 

Alex Colome allowed just three singles and struck out nine over six innings in the Biscuits 2-1 win over the Jacksonville Suns. Photo Courtesy: Montgomery Biscuits

By Steve Kolbe

The Suns were held to just four singles in a 2-1 loss to the Montgomery Biscuits on Thursday night at the Baseball Grounds.  Montgomery has outscored the Suns 8-3 in the first two games of the series.   The Biscuits moved ahead of the Blue Wahoos into sole possession of first place in the South Division.
 
The starting pitchers, Matthew Neil for the Suns and Alex Colome for the Biscuits, combined to allow just four singles in the first four innings of the game.  Jacksonville failed to take advantage of some control issues by Colome.  He walked a season-high six batters in his six innings of work, but didn’t surrender a run.
 
Montgomery took the lead in the fifth inning against Neil.  Michael Sheridan hit a high fly ball to left field that fell in fair territory between the trio of Jose Duarte, Chris Gutierrez, and Curt Smith.  Sheridan ended up on second, and scored when Brett Nommensen singled up the middle to put the Biscuits up 1-0.  The Suns are 10-36 when allowing the first run of the game.
 
Biscuits shortstop Hak-Ju Lee helped generate a run in the sixth inning when he led off with a walk, stole second base, and went to third on Neil’s second wild pitch of the night.  With one out, Omar Luna hit a sacrifice fly to center, with Lee beating the throw to the plate to increase the lead to 2-0.
 
The Suns scored their only run of the game in the seventh inning against reliever Shane Dyer.  Jose Duarte walked, Jake Jefferies singled, and Donnie Webb walked to load the bases with no outs.  Chris Gutierrez then grounded into a double play, with Duarte scoring to make the score 2-1.
 
The Biscuits have won five straight games against the Suns, and improved to 9-3 overall in the season series.  Jacksonville is 9-13 in games this season with the designated hitter. 
 
The Suns fell to 14-18 in one-run games this season, and Jacksonville is now 3-32 when scoring fewer than three runs in a game.
 
Omar Luna was the only player to collect two hits in the game.  The Suns have 10 hits in the series against the Biscuits, but only one for exrtra bases.
 
Suns starter Matthew Neil (1-5) allowed two runs on five hits in five and two-thirds innings, and has lost his last five decisions.  Alex Colome (5-3) allowed just three singles over his six innings of work.  He stuck out nine, one shy of his season high.  Colome allowed six runs on eight hits in just three innings the last time he faced the Suns June 26 at Riverwalk Stadium.  Kirby Yates pitched two innings of hitless ball to earn his eighth save of the season.  The Biscuits are the only team in the Southern League to have two pitchers with eight saves of more (Adame Liberatore-8; Kirby Yates-8).
 
The Suns will look to salvage the final game of the series Friday night, with the first pitch slated for 7:05 p.m. from the Baseball Grounds.  LHP James Leverton (0-0, 2.25) will start his third game of the season for the Suns.  LHP Kyle Lobsein (4-4, 4.47) takes the mound for the Biscuits.
 
 

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Suns Split Double Header With Smokies

 

Third baseman Justin Bour(above)drove in two runs in the Smokies 5-1 win in the first game of a double header against the Jacksonville Suns at Smokies Park. Photo Courtesy: Tennessee Smokies

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns won two of their three games in Tennessee, splitting a double header against the Smokies on Friday at Smokies Park, dropping the first game 5-1 and winning the night cap 3-1.  The Suns have won both of their series against the Smokies this season.
 
In the first game, Jeff Dominguez drove in Chris Gutierrez with a single in the first inning to put the Suns in front 1-0.  It would be the only run the Suns would score in the game.
 
The Smokies scored five runs on four hits in the third inning against Suns starter Matthew Neil.  Justin Bour and Mike Burgess each drove in two runs in the inning to build a 5-1 lead.
 
Matthew Neil (1-4) pitched four innings and lost his fourth straight decision.  Eric Jokisch (4-1) allowed just one run on five hits to earn the win for the Smokies.
 
Tennessee manager Buddy Bailey picked up his 1,600th career minor league win as a manager.  He’s one of only four managers to reach the mark.
 
The Suns bounced back in the second game of the twin bill, taking a 3-0 lead in the fourth, and winning 3-1.  Paul Gran hit his third home run of the season on the first pitch he saw in the fourth.  It was his second home run in four games.  Jeff Dominguez and Kyle Jensen each drove in a run.
 
Josh Schmidt (3-3) entered the game in the fifth inning and recorded two outs for the win.  Suns starter James Leverton pitched four and a-third innings, allowing one run on four hits.  A.J. Ramos tossed hitless innings for his eighth save of the season.
 
The Suns begin a three game series in Huntsville against the Stars on Saturday night.  The Suns won two of three against the Stars in the first series of the year.
 

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