Tag Archives: Paul Gran

Suns Big Inning Dooms Generals

 

Right fielder Kyle Jensen(above right)belted his 24th home run of the season and drove in four runs to lead the Suns past the Jackson Generals 10-9 at Pringles Park.

Right fielder Kyle Jensen(above right)belted his 24th home run of the season and drove in four runs to lead the Suns past the Jackson Generals 10-9 at Pringles Park.

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns exploded for a season-high nine runs in the fourth inning, and then held on for a 10-9 win over the Generals on Sunday afternoon at Pringles Park in Jackson, Tennessee.  The Suns snapped a four-game losing streak, and prevented the Generals from winning their 80th game of the season.
 
After allowing the first run of the night in each of the first three games, the Generals scored a run in each of the first three innings against Suns starter Bryan Evans.  In the first inning, Bran Miller hit his first triple of the season, and scored on Chih-Hsien Chiang’s sacrifice fly to put the Generals up 1-0.  Jackson increased the lead to 2-0 in the second inning when Johermyn Chavez doubled and scored on a Denny Almonte RBI-single.  The Generals added another run in the third inning when Nate Tenbrink hit his fifth home run of the season, a solo blast to right field to make the score 3-0.
 
Generals starting pitcher Taijuan Walker breezed through the first three innings, striking out seven of the first 10 batters he faced in the game.  The Suns solved Walker in the fourth with their biggest inning of the season, sending 14 men to the plate and scoring nine times.  After Danny Pertusati walked and Aaron Dudley reached on an error, Kyle Jensen tied the game 3-3 with the Suns first hit of the afternoon when he belted a three-run home over the right field wall.  Seven of Jensen’s 24 home runs this season have been three-run homers.
 
With one out Paul Gran was hit by a pitch for a league-leading 19th time, and Jake Jefferies followed with his second home run of the season to give the Suns a 5-3 edge.  It was his first home run since May 15th at Montgomery.  The Suns first two hits in the game on Sunday afternoon were both home runs.
 
After Jose Duarte singled and went all the way to third on a throwing error by Taijuan Walker, Alfredo Lopez singled with Duarte crossing the plate to add to the lead at 6-3.  When Donnie Webb singled to put runners on the corners to continue the rally, the Generals would make the call to the bullpen and summoned Jose Jimenez.  Danny Pertusati promptly greeted the new Generals pitcher by singling to right, driving in Lopez from third base for a 7-3 advantage.  Dudley then reached base for the second time in the inning with a walk to load the bases.  Kyle Jensen delivered a run with a single, and Kyle Skipworth drove in another with a ground out and the Suns had scored a season-high nine runs in the inning to build a commanding 9-3 lead.  Joe Dunigan went deep for the 25th time this season in the home half of the fourth inning and it was 9-4.
 
Kyle Skipworth provided the Suns with a huge run in the top of the seventh when he smashed his 21st homer run of the season, a solo blast to right field to make the score 10-4.  The Suns have hit three home runs in a game five times this season, all in the second half.
 
The Generals scored five runs in the final three innings of the game against three different Suns relievers.  Brad Miller hit a solo home run in the seventh inning off of Sandy Rosario to cut the Suns lead to 10-5.
In the eighth inning the Generals cut the lead to 10-8 when Denny Almonte hit a three-run home run off of Bobby Bramhall.  It was Almonte’s 12th round tripper of the season.
 
The Suns turned the game over to Arquimedes Caminero for the ninth, and Nate Thomson led off with a double and he scored to make it a one run game at 10-9 when Chih-Hsien Chiang singled to center field.  After some tense moments, Caminero retired both Mike Zunino and Joe Dunigan on ground outs to end the game. 
 
Kyle Jensen went 2-for-5 with a home run and four RBI.  He’s third in the league with 24 homers and 83 runs batted in.  Kyle Skipworth and Jake Jefferies each hit the long ball and drove in a pair of runs.  Every player in the Suns lineup scored at least one, with Danny Pertusati crossing the plate twice.

Denny Almonte finished 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBI.  Nate Tenbrink, Brad Miller, and Johermyn Chavez each collected two hits and scored two runs.  Miller ranks second among all Minor League players with 191 hits this season.  The Suns and Generals combined for seven home runs in the game.  The Generals lead the league with 117 round trippers, and have 15 multi-homer games in the last 47 contests.

Bryan Evans (7-8) allowed four runs on seven hits over 6.0 innings to win his final start of the season.  Evans finished strong, winning four of his last six starts.  He was 3-4 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, and 4-4 on the road this year.  Arquimedes Caminero pitched the ninth to earn his second save with the Suns.  Taijuan Walker (7-10) surrendered seven runs on eight hits over 3.1 innings in the loss, including home runs by Jake Jefferies and Kyle Jensen.  Walker has allowed at least one home run in each of his last five starts.

The Suns are set to play their final game of the 2012 campaign Monday afternoon against the Generals at Pringles Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM.  LHP Brian Flynn (2-0, 3.92) will take the mound for the Suns in the season finale.  Jacksonville finished last season with a record of 70-70, and a win on Monday would give the Suns a .500 record for the second straight season.

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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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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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Buss Takes Lookouts To 11th Inning Win

By Steve Kolbe

It hasn’t happened often, but Suns closer A.J. Ramos was unable to lock down a win for Jacksonville on Friday night at AT&T Field, with the Chattanooga Lookouts scoring the game-tying run in the 10th inning, and an inning later winning in walk-off fashion when left fielder Nick Buss hit a three run home run for a 6-3 victory.   All eight of the Suns extra inning games this season have been played on the road, with Jacksonville 4-4 in those games. 

The Lookouts have won the first four games of the series by a combined count of 25-11.  The Suns are just 3-11 against the Lookouts this season, and have won just two of the nine games played in the Volunteer State.   

Jacksonville dented the scoreboard first on Friday against Lookouts starter Zack Lee.  Kyle Jensen belted a solo home run to right field in the top of the second inning to put the Suns in front 1-0.  Jensen leads the Suns, and is tied for third in the Southern League with 18 round trippers this season.  Four of his 18 homers have come at the expense of Lookouts pitching.
 
The Lookouts responded in the home half of the second against Suns lefty Brian Flynn.  With one out, Luis Nunez singled to start the rally. Brahiam Maldonado followed with a double to the gap in left-center field, with the speedy Nunez scoring all the way from first base to tie the game 1-1.
 
In the fourth inning the Lookouts put together a two-out rally against Flynn.  After J.T. Wise and Blake Smith struck out, Chattanooga collected three straight singles.  Nunez again record the first hit in the inning, and Maldonado singled to put runners on first and third.  C.J Retherford then sent a pop up into shallow right field that fell just out of the reach of Suns second baseman Paul Gran, with Nunez coasting home on the bloop single to give the Lookouts a 2-1 edge. 
 
With the game in the hands of both bullpens, the Suns faced three Lookouts pitchers in the eighth inning.  Paco Rodriguez gave up back-to-back singles to Ben Lasater and Kyle Skipworth to start the eighth.  Rodriguez then turned the game over to Chris Withrow, who struck out Kyle Jensen, but then walked Danny Pertusati on four pitches to load the bases.  On a delivery to Paul Gran, Withrow’s pitch went all the way to the backstop with Lasater hustling home on the pass ball to even the score 2-2.  Withrow suffered an injury on the pitch and was forced to leave the game. 
 
With Lookouts closer Steven Ames on the mound in the 10th inning, Danny Pertusati tripled to straight-away center.  Donnie Webb followed with an infield single with Pertusati crossing the plate to give the Suns a 3-2 edge.  
 
With the lead, and looking to snap their losing skid, Jacksonville summoned A.J. Ramos from the bullpen.  Rafael Ynoa grounded out to first, and Jake Lemmerman went down on strikes.  With two outs in the bottom of the 10th, J.T. Wise hit his fourth double of the series to keep the Lookouts hopes alive.  
 
Blake Smith came to the plate and fell behind in the count 0-2.  That normally means lights out with Ramos on the mound, but with the Lookouts down to their last strike, Smith doubled to right field with Wise scoring the equalizer.  It’s just the fourth time this season that Ramos has failed to lock  down a save in 21 opportunities.
 
Things went from bad to worse in the bottom of the eleventh inning.   After singles by Aaron Miller and Griff Erickson, Nick Buss stepped in and smashed his sixth home run of the season over the right field wall to hand the Lookouts a walk-off 6-3 win.  Ramos has allowed just two home runs in 61 innings of work this season.  Ramos gave up the long ball for the first time since May 2nd, when Birmingham Barons first baseman Andy Wilkins hit a two-run homer against him. 
 
Zack Cox went 3-for-6 with three singles.  Kyle Jensen and Danny Pertusati each collected two hits.   Suns batters struck out 11 times in the game, and have gone down on strikes 48 times in the series.  Luis Nunez finished the night 3-for-5 and scored two runs for the Lookouts.  Rafael Ynoa, Griff Erickson, and Brahiam Maldonado each were 2-for-5. 
 
The Lookouts have found their way to the win column in six of last seven games, and improved to 18-11 at home in the second half.  The Suns fell to 9-15 on the road, and have lost a season-high five straight road games.  Jacksonville’s six-game overall losing streak is the longest by the club since a six-game slid May 6th-11th, when the Suns were outscored 26-3 and shutout three times. 
 
Suns starter Brian Flynn allowed two runs on seven hits, and struck out four without walking a batter in five innings.  Lookouts starter Zach Lee also lasted five innings, giving up a run on six hits.  A.J. Ramos (3-2) allowed four runs, all earned, on five hits over two innings in the loss.  Ramos had allowed just five earned runs all season entering the game.  Steven Ames (2-3) tossed two innings for the Lookouts in the win.
 
The Suns will try to salvage the series finale on Saturday with the first pitch slated for 7:15 PM from AT&T Field in Chattanooga.  LHP Jose Alvarez (5-7, 4.10) will start his 22nd game of the season for Jacksonville.  RHP Andres Santiago (0-0, 3.60) is set to start his first game of the season for Chattanooga.  The Suns havn’t been swept in a series this season.
 
 
 

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BayBears Top Suns 10-8 In Series Finale

 

The Mobile BayBears scored three runs in each of the first three innings, and then hung on for a 10-8 win over the Suns August 12, 2012 at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Mobile BayBears slipped past the Suns 10-8 in a slugfest on Sunday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.  After winning the first six games of their 10-game home stand, the Suns dropped three of the final four.  Mobile finished the season with a record of 16-9 against the Suns, and won 10 of the 15 games played in Jacksonville.  The Suns fell to second place in the South Division, one game behind the Biscuits.
 
The BayBears dented the scoreboard in the first inning against Suns starter Jose Alvarez.  Evan Frey led off with his third triple of the season, and Chris Owings followed with a single to put Mobile in front 1-0.  A batter later, Matt Davidson smashed a two-run home run to increase the lead to 3-0.  Davidson is second in the league with 21 home runs.  In the bottom of the inning, Chris Gutierrez reached on an error and scored when Ben Lasater doubled to left field to make the score 3-1.  Lasater finished the series 11-for-14 with four RBI’s.
 
Mobile scored three more runs in the top of the second with one swing of the bat.  Alvarez retired the first two batters of the inning, but then allowed singles by David Holmberg and Evan Frey.  Chris Owings followed with a three-run home run to give the BayBears a 6-1 edge.  Owings entered the game without a hit in his last 18 at bats, he finished 2-for-5 and drove in four runs on Sunday.  The BayBears hit 13 home runs against the Suns during the season.  Alvarez allowed five home run in 109 innings entering the game, he surrendered two long balls in two innings against Mobile.
 
The Suns again scored a run in the home half of the inning, when Kyle Jensen hit a solo home run to make the score 6-2.  Jensen tied Kyle Skipworth for the team lead with 16 round trippers.  Jensen has hit five of his 16 homers against the BayBears this season. 
 
In the third, Mobile sent eight men to the plate and scored three runs for a third straight inning.  Ryan Strieby and David Nick singled, and Brent Clevlen walked to load the bases.  Alvarez walked Ed Easley to force in a run, David Holmberg had a RBI single, and Evan Frey drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.  The BayBears had built a 9-2 lead and forced Alvarez from the game by the end of the inning.  Alvarez had allowed just six runs in his previous 29 innings of work before Sunday. 
 
Zack Cox connected for his first home run with the Suns, a three-run home run in the bottom of the third to cut the lead to 9-5.  Cox hit nine home runs with the Memphis Redbirds this season before being acquired by Miami from St. Louis.  He has 10 RBI’s in his first seven games with the Suns.
 
The teams went scoreless from the fourth until the eighth inning, when Matt Davidson drove in his third run of the game with a double, with Alfredo Marte scoring on the play to give the BayBears what appeared to be a comfortable 10-5 lead.  Mobile scored at least five runs in the final four games of the series.  It’s the first time this season that the BayBears have tallied five or more in four consecutive games.
 
The Suns didn’t go away quietly.  In the bottom of the ninth, a walk to Kyle Skipworth and singles by both Paul Gran and Jake Smolinski loaded the bases.  With two outs, Chris Gutierrez hit a fly ball deep to left-center field, just missing a grand slam with the ball bouncing off the top of the wall for a bases-clearing double, and the Suns trailed 10-8.  Eury De La Rosa entered the game and enticed Danny Pertusati to ground out to end the game.
 
Zach Cox went 2-for-4 with a three run home run.  Chris Gutierrez also drove in three runs with his ninth inning double.   The BayBears collected 15 hits in the game, just one shy of the most in a game this season against the Suns. 
 
Evan Frey and Matt Davidson each had three hits on the night for the BayBears.  Chris Owings went 2-for-5 with four RBI’s.  The BayBears had at least one baserunner in every inning except the ninth, every player in the  lineup reached base at least once during the night, and every BayBears player scored at least one run with exception of Ed Easley.  The BayBears won four of the five series against the Suns during the season.
 
After pitching complete games in each of his last two starts, Jose Alvarez (5-7) allowed nine runs on nine hits in a season-low two and a-third innings in the loss.  Alvarez had allowed just six runs in his last five starts at the Baseball Grounds.  David Holmberg (4-4) surrendered five runs on five hits over six innings for the win.  Eury De La Rosa earned the save for the second straight night.
 
The Suns begin a five-game series against the first place Chattanooga Lookouts at AT&T Field on Tuesday, night with the first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m.  RHP Matthew Neil will start for the Suns.  RHP Matt Magill takes the mound for the Lookouts. 
 
 

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BayBears End Suns Winning Streak

 

The Mobile BayBears defeated the Suns 6-2 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The loss ended the Suns nine-game home winning streak. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns nine-game home winning streak came to an end, with a 6-2 loss to the Mobile BayBears on Thursday night at the Baseball Grounds.   The Suns loss, combined with the Biscuits 6-4 win over the Jackson Generals, dropped Jacksonville into a first place tie with Montgomery in the South Division. 
 
Mobile took the lead in the top of the fourth inning against Suns starter Graham Taylor.  After Alfredo Marte led off with a walk and Matt Davidson singled, Brent Clevlen belted a three-run home run to left field to put the BayBears up 3-0.  It’s the 13th home run that Taylor has surrendered this season.  Since returning to Mobile from Triple-A Reno, Clevlen has reached base in 11 straight games.  The Suns dropped to 15-40 when allowing the first run of the game.
 
After being held without a hit through the first four innings by BayBears starter Mike Bolsinger, the Suns dented the scoreboard in the home half of the fifth.  Alfredo Lopez singled and Graham Taylor walked to put runners on first and second with one out.  Jake Smolinski then launched a 3-0 pitch down the left field line toward the foul pole, with the ball bouncing off the top of the wall mere inches from a game-tying three-run home run.  Lopez scored from second on the play to make the score 3-1, with Taylor going to second base and Smolinski being held to a long single.  Paul Gran then singled to load the bases, and Zack Cox singled up the middle with Taylor scoring from third to cut the lead to 3-2, but Smolinski was thrown out by center fielder Evan Frey on a close play at the plate.
 
Mobile increased the lead in the eighth inning against Suns reliever Arquimedes Caminero.  Matt Davidson walked and Brent Clevlen singled, and both runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch.  Ryan Strieby then singled with both base runners crossing the plate, and the BayBears led 5-2.  Strieby took second on a throw to the plate, and later scored when Ed Easley hit a ground rule double down the right field line to add to the lead at 6-2.
 
Brent Clevlen went 2-for-4 with three RBI’s and two scored.  Ed Easley also finished with two hits.  Matt Davidson scored twice for the BayBears.  The BayBears scored more than three runs in a game for just the ninth time in their last 32 games.  The Suns had seven hits, all were singles, including Smolinski’s 321 foot single off the wall.  In the first two games of the series, all 12 of the Suns hits have been base hits. 
 
Graham Taylor (7-9) allowed three runs on four hits over six innings and lost for the first time in his last six starts.  Taylor had been touched for just three runs in his previous five starts, and given up just one run in his previous 20 innings before Thursday.  Mike Bolsinger (4-2) surrendered two runs on four hits in his five innings of work for the win.
 
The middle game of the series is Friday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, with the Suns and BayBears meeting in a matinee that starts at 1:05 p.m.  In a match up of right handers, Bryan Evans (4-6, 3.94) takes the mound for Jacksonville and Brett Lorin (3-7, 5.10) will start for Mobile.
 

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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 Complete Sweep Of Biscuits; Take First Place

 

Jose Alvarez tossed a two-hitter in the Suns 4-0 rain-shortened win against the Biscuits. Jacksonville completed a five game sweep over Montgomery to win five in a row for the first time this season. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns completed a five-game sweep over the Montgomery Biscuits, with a 4-0 rain-shortened victory on Tuesday night at the Baseball Grounds.  The Suns took over sole possession of first place in the South Division with the win.  It’s the first time since the 30th game of the first half that the Suns have been alone in first.
 
Suns starter Jose Alvarez has been the Suns starter for five of the 10 shutouts tossed against Jacksonville this season.  Against Montgomery on Tuesday, he turned in his second straight dominating performance in the last week.  
 
After suffering a complete game 1-0 loss last Thursday in Mobile, Alvarez was sharp from the first pitch against the Biscuits.  He retired the first seven Biscuits batters of the game, and allowed just two base runners all night.  Mark Thomas doubled in the third inning, and Omar Luna legged out an infield single in the fifth for the only two Montgomery hits.
 
The Suns scored all the runs that Alvarez would need in the home half of the second inning against Biscuits starter Nick Barnese.  Leadoff man Curt Smith was hit by a pitch to start the rally, and Kyle Skipworth singled to left to put runners on first and second.  Paul Gran drove in the first run of the night with a single to right field, with Smith scoring to give the Suns a 1-0 lead.  Barnese then hit Kyle Jensen to load the bases, and with one out walked Donnie Webb to force in Skipworth from third base to increase the Suns advantage to 2-0.  With two outs, Chris Gutierrez hit his 20th double of the season, driving in Jensen and Webb to complete the four-run inning.  Gutierrez finished 1-for-3 to increase his hitting streak to nine games.
 
The Suns have outscored their opponents 122 to 78 in the first two innings this season.  Jacksonville has won eight straight home games, and 10 of the last 13 overall.
 
The two teams played through the rain until the middle of the eighth, when the umpires called for the tarp.  After a 40 minute delay, the game was officially ruled complete, with the Suns earning their third shutout of the series.  The Suns have 11 shutouts this season, with nine of the 11 at the Baseball Grounds.
 
The Suns began the series four games behind the Biscuits in the South.  After completing their first sweep of the season, the Suns are one game up.  Jacksonville outscored Montgomery 25-8 in the five games.  It’s just the second five-game losing streak this season for the Biscuits, who were swept by Birmingham in the first half.  The Suns and Biscuits will square off one more time, with a five-game series at Riverwalk Stadium August 24th-28th.
 
Jose Alvarez (5-6) pitched a two-hitter in the win, allowing just a single and a double.  He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.  Alvarez also tossed a two-hitter against the Tennessee Smokies June 22nd in a 2-0 victory to earn pitcher of the week honors.  Nick Barnese (2-1) allowed four runs on four hits, and lost for the first time this season.  Barnese missed the first half of the season after suffering a shoulder strain during spring training.   
 
The first place Suns begin a five game series with the Mobile BayBears on Wednesday at the Baseball Grounds, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.  LHP Graham Taylor (7-8, 3.81) will start for Jacksonville.  Taylor was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week after blanking the Biscuits in the first game of the last series.

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Suns Win Fourth Straight Over Biscuits; Tie For Division Lead

Jake Smolinski(above left)and Curt Smith (above right)combined to go 5-for-6 with five RBI’s and five runs scored in the Suns 11-7 win over the Montgomery Biscuits August 6, 2012 at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

 
The Jacksonville Suns moved into a tie for first place in the South Division of the Southern League, collecting a season-high 15 hits in an 11-7 win over the Montgomery Biscuits on Monday night at the Baseball Grounds.  The Suns began the five game series trailing the Biscuits by four games in the standings. 
 
The Biscuits took the lead in the top of the third inning against Suns starter Brian Flynn.  Mark Thomas legged out an infield single to start the inning and went to second on a pass ball.  With one out, Hak-Ju Lee singled to left field with Thomas scoring from second to put Montgomery in front 1-0.  The Biscuits scored the first run for the second straight game, with Lee providing the RBI both times.  After a single by Ty Morrison put runners on first and third, Mikie Mahtook plated Lee from third with a ground out and the Biscuits were up 2-0. 
 
The Suns evened the score 2-2 in the home half of the third against Biscuits starter Matt Buschmann.  Donnie Webb walked to set up Jake Smolinski, who hit a two-run home run to left-center.  Smolinski entered the season with seven career home runs.  He has hit all five of his homers this season in the last 44 games. 
 
The two teams traded runs in the fourth inning.  Michael Sheridan drove in a run with a RBI double for the Biscuits in the top half of the inning, and Curt Smith countered with a solo home run for the Suns in the home half.  Smith has hit nine home runs this season, with two of them in his last three games in the starting lineup.  The Suns have belted at least two home runs in five of the last nine games, and now have a total of 82 round trippers on the season.
 
Jacksonville batted around in the fifth, scoring five times on four hits to break the game open.  Chris Gutierrez and Zach Cox each drove in a run with a single to give the Suns a 5-3 lead.  Curt Smith plated two more runs with a double, with both Gutierrez and Cox crossing the plate to increase the advantage to 7-3.  An error by third baseman Greg Sexton on a ground ball by Paul Gran then allowed Smith to score for an 8-3 Suns edge.
 
In the sixth inning, after singles by Jake Jefferies and Jake Smolinski, Zach Cox hit a fly ball with left fielder Shawn O’Malley unable to make the catch by the foul line,  going head-over-heels onto the lawn in foul ground, with the ball falling to the ground.  The triple drove in both Smolinski and Jefferies to give the Suns a comfortable 10-3 lead.
 
The Suns and Biscuits again traded runs in the seventh inning.  After the Biscuits loaded the bases on three straight singles against Suns reliever Rett Varner, Ty Morrison drove in his 32nd run of the season for Montgomery with a ground out to cut the lead to 10-4.  Donnie Webb got the run back for the Suns with a double in the home half of the inning, with Paul Gran scoring to make it 11-4 Jacksonville.
 
With Jordan Conley on in relief, the Biscuits made it interesting in the eighth.  Greg Sexton hit a solo home run and Derek Dietrich smashed a two-run home run to cut the Suns lead to 11-7.  After a double by Mark Thomas, left fielder Shawn O’Malley hit a ball deep to right field, with Suns right fielder Danny Pertusati leaping up at the wall to commit highway robbery and deny O’Malley the home run.  A.J. Ramos entered the game to record the final out of the eighth inning, and also pitched the ninth.
 
The Suns and Biscuits combined for 29 hits in the game.  17 of the 18 hitters  in the game with the exception of Suns catcher Kyle Skipworth (0-for-5) had at least one hit.  The top four batters in the Suns lineup combined to finish 8-for-16 with nine RBI’s and seven runs scored.  Eight players in the lineup had at least one of the Suns season-high 15 hits.  Curt Smith went 3-for-4 with three RBI’s.  Jake Smolinski, Chris Gutierrez, Paul Gran, and Jake Jefferies each had two hits.  In his Suns debut, Zach Cox was 2-for-5 with a triple, three RBI’s, and a run scored.  Every player in the Biscuits lineup had at least one hit.  Mark Thomas, Greg Sexton, Omar Luna, and Michael Sheridan each had a multi-hit game for the Biscuits.  Jacksonville has outscored Montgomery 21-8 in the series.
 
Brian Flynn (2-0) allowed three runs on six hits to win his second straight start.  Flynn, a 6-8 left hander, was acquired by the Marlins from the Tigers just before the trade deadline last week.  Matt Buschmann (5-7) surrendered eight runs on eight hits in the loss.  He shutout the Suns 1-0 on May 11th, allowing just one hit over six innings.
 
The Suns have won seven straight games at the Baseball grounds, outscoring opponents 41-21.  It’s the longest home winning streak for the Suns since May 2-14, 2010, when they also won seven in a row.
 
The Suns look to take sole possession of first place with a win on Tuesday.  Jacksonville hasn’t been alone at the top of the division since May 4th in the first half of the season.  The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. from the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.  LHP Jose Alvarez (4-6, 3.74) takes the mound for the Suns.  RHP Nick Barnese (2-0, 4.30) will try to avoid the sweep for the Biscuits. 

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Suns Win Third Straight Over Biscuits; One Game Out

Bryan Evans(above)was sharp in the Suns 7-1 win over the Montgomery Biscuits. He allowed just one run, and tied his season high with eight strikeouts. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

 By Steve Kolbe

The Suns won for the sixth straight time at the Baseball Grounds, pulling to within one game of first place in the South Division, with a 7-1 win over the Montgomery Biscuits on Sunday night.  The Suns began the series four games off the pace in the division.  
 
The Biscuits snapped a 21-inning scoreless streak when Hak-Ju Lee hit a home run off of Suns starter Bryan Evans on the first pitch of the game.  It’s the only run of the series for Montgomery, with the Suns outscoring the Biscuits 10-1 in the first three games.  The Biscuits have been held to 14 hits, with only two for extra bases.
 
The Suns took the lead in the home half of the first off of Biscuits starter Jake Thompson.  Jake Smolinski led off with a double, and went to third on a single by Chris Gutierrez.  Paul Gran then drove in the first run of the night with a sacrifice fly, with Smolinski coasting home to tie the game 1-1.  After Kyle Skipworth reached on an error by first baseman Michael Sheridan, Curt Smith drove in Gutierrez with a RBI single to put the Suns in front to stay 2-1. 
 
In the second inning, Gutierrez walked with two outs and scored all the way from first on Paul Gran’s fourth triple of the season to straight-away center field to make the score 3-1.  Jacksonville has outscored opponents 118-78 in the first two innings this season.
 
The first four batters for the Suns reached base in the fifth with Jacksonville adding to the lead.  The big hit came off the bat of Kyle Skipworth, who homered to right-center field for the second straight night for his 16th round tripper of the season to make the score 4-1.  Skipworth has hit nine of the Suns last 18 homers.  Taylor Krick drove in a run with a groundout, and Donnie Webb plated a run with a sacrifice fly and the Suns were up 6-1.
 
Jacksonville tacked on one more in the eighth inning.  With runners on first and third, Gutierrez drove a run with a ground out to put the Suns up 7-1.  The Suns improved to 14-13 against the South Division in the second half with the win.
 
Eight of the nine Suns hitters in the game either drove in or scored at least one run.  Chris Gutierrez went 1-for-4 to extend his hit streak to six games and scored twice.  Jake Smolinski finished 2-for-4 for his 20th multi-hit game of the season.
 
The Suns have won eight of their last 11 games, and allowed three runs or fewer eight times.  Jacksonville pitchers have given up just two runs and 19 hits over the last four games.  On the 19 hits, only three have been for extra bases (one HR, two doubles).
 
Bryan Evans (4-6) allowed one run on three hits in 5.1 innings of work for the win.  He tied his season-high with eight strikeouts.  Evans is now 2-3 at the Baseball Grounds.  Jake Thompson (7-10) surrendered six runs on seven hits and lost his fourth straight game. 
 
The Suns can tie the Biscuits for first place with a win Monday night.  Jacksonville hasn’t won four games in a row since April, and the Biscuits haven’t lost four straight since April.
 
 The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. from the Baseball Grounds.  LHP Brian Flynn (1-0, 3.86) will start his third game for the Suns.  RHP Matt Buschmann (5-6, 4.00) gets the call for the Biscuits.
 
 
 

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