Tag Archives: Russell Mitchell

Skipworth Hits For Cycle; Suns Win Slugfest 13-10

Jacksonville Suns catcher Kyle Skipworth hit for the cycle including a grand slam against the Chattanooga Lookouts May 26, 2012 at AT&T Field. Photo Courtesy: MiLB.com

By Steve Kolbe 

Suns catcher Kyle Skipworth hit for the cycle to lead the Suns past the Lookouts 13-10 in a slugfest at AT&T Field in Chattanooga on Saturday night.  The win snapped the Suns four game slide, and also ended Chattanooga’s six game win streak.
The scheduled starter for the Lookouts Nathan Eovaldi didn’t take the mound as expected.  Instead, right-hander Luis Vasquez was pressed into service and started a game for the first time this season.  The Suns  came out swinging against Vasquez and sent nine men to the plate in the first inning. 
Leadoff man Danny Black doubled to right field to start the game, and Jake Smolinski drove in Black with a RBI single  to put the Suns in front 1-0 before many fans had even taken their seats.  With two outs, Kyle Skipworth hit a ground rule double to put runners on second and third and bring Kyle Jensen to the plate.  Jensen capped the inning by smashing his sixth home run of the season, a three-run blast to right-center field for a 4-0 Suns advantage.  The Suns improved their record to 11-2 when scoring a run in the first inning.  Jensen and Skipworth share the team lead with six round-tippers each.
In the second, Jacksonville added another run when Danny Black led off for the second straight inning, this time reaching base on an error by the pitcher.  After Paul Gran bunted his way on and Jake Smolinski was hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded with no outs.  Shawn Bowman then grounded into a force out, with Black thrown out at the plate.  With one out, Kyle Skipworth’s hit a sacrifice fly to right field with Gran tagging from third to increase the lead to 5-0.
The Lookouts scored their first run of the night against Suns starter Matthew Neil in the home half of the second, when Travis Denker led off the inning with his third home run of the season to cut the lead to 5-1.  The Lookouts have hit 10 home runs this season against the Suns, their most against any club.
Having just arrived at the ballpark prior to the game, reliever Eammon Portice took over on the hill for Vasquez in the third, and had similar results.  The Suns scored to make it 6-1 when Matthew Neil walked with two outs, and Danny Black drove him in with a single to right field.  Black reached base in each of the first three innings.
In the fourth, Jake Smolinski walked to lead off the inning, and Shawn Bowman singled behind him.  With two on and no outs, Skipworth drove in his second run of the night with a single.  Later in the inning, Russell Mitchell drove in his tenth run of the year, with Bowman coming in to score on a ground out and the Suns had built an 8-1 advantage.
The Lookouts came to life in the bottom of the fourth against Neil.  Singles by Travis Denker and Brahiam Maldonado, and a walk to Pedro Baez loaded the bases with one out.  Jake Lemmerman then drove in the first run of the inning, when Bowman committed an error on a grounder hit in his direction with Baez scoring to make the score 8-2 Suns.  Matt Wallach brought the Lookouts closer with a base-clearing double into the right field corner, and at the end of four innings Jacksonville led 8-5.
Before the fifth inning began, the Lookouts made a call to the bullpen and summoned another newcomer, Bret Montgomery.  After striking out the first batter of the inning, five straight Suns hitters would reach base against Montgomery.  Danny Black hit his second double of the night, Paul Gran scratched out an infield single, and Jake Smolinski drove in Black with a single.  With the score 9-5 Suns, Shawn Bowman walked on four pitches to load the bases and set the stage for Kyle Skipworth.  With one mighty swing, Skipworth sent the ball sailing high into the Chattanooga night and over the right field fence for the Suns first grand slam of the season.  By the end of the inning, the Suns had scored five runs on four hits to expand the lead to 13-5.  Jacksonville scored runs in each of the first five innings in the game.  During their four game losing streak, the Suns had plated a total of only nine runs.
Chattanooga chipped away by scoring three runs in the bottom half of the fifth.  Luis Nunez singled to lead off the inning, and scored on Travis Denker’s double to straightaway center.  The inning was highlighted by a no-doubt-about-it two-run home run to left field off the bat of Pedro Baez, and the score was 13-8.  Baez has hit a two-run homer in two straight games, and he now has 26 runs batted in.  Suns relief pitcher Zach Neal took over for Matthew Neil and struck out Jake Lemmerman for the final out of the inning.
The Lookouts didn’t go away quietly, and scored two more runs in the seventh.  J.T. Wise single to left, and Denker doubled behind him.  Baez cashed in a run with a ground out with Wise scoring and Denker moving to third on the play.  With two outs, Lemmerman singled to drive in Denker to cut the lead to 13-10, but that’s as close as Chattanooga would get. 
The 13 runs are the most that the Suns have scored in a game this season.  In the first eight games of the season series against the Lookouts, Jacksonville had scored a total of 26 runs. 
During the 2011 campaign the Suns hit four grand slams, third-most in the Southern League.  Alex Romero, Luke Montz, Kevin Mattison, and Jake Smolinski each hit one.
For the Suns, Kyle Skipworth finished 4-for-4 and hit for the cycle.  He doubled in the first, singled in the third, hit his grand slam in the fifth, and tripled in the seventh.  Skipworth drove in six runs and scored twice.  Danny Black went 3-for-6, drove in a run, and scored two others.  Jake Smolinski was 2-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored.  Paul Gran had two hits and scored twice. 
For the Lookouts, Travis Denker went 4-for-5 with two doubles and a home run.  He drove in two runs and scored four times.  Nick Buss, Brahiam Maldonado, and Matt Wallach each finished with two hits in the losing cause.
Matthew Neil pitched four and two-thirds innings in his second start for the Suns.  He allowed eight runs on 10 hits and did not figure in the decision.  Zach Neal tossed two and a-third innings to earn his third win of the season.  Evan Reed struck out two of the three batters he faced in a flawless ninth to record his ninth save. 
In the spot start, Luis Vasquez allowed five runs on five hits in the first two innings to fall to 1-2.  The Suns are 2-7 this season against the Lookouts, with both of the wins coming against Vasquez.  The 13 runs are the most that the Lookouts have surrendered in a game this season.
The series finale is set for Sunday night from AT&T Field with the first pitch scheduled for 6:15 p.m.  The Suns will send RHP Omar Poveda (3-2, 4.54) to the mound for his ninth start of the season.  Jacksonville will try to hand RHP Ethan Martin (5-0, 3.28) his first loss of the year.  Martin is one of only two starting pitchers in the Southern League with a perfect record.

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Suns Fall Short In Extra Innings

Lookouts right fielder Blake Smith hit a solo home run in the third inning off of Suns starter Graham Taylor. Smith leads Chattanooga with seven home runs and 28 runs batted in. Photo Courtesy: Chattanooga Lookouts

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns struck out a season-high 17 times and ended up on the wrong side of a 14-inning affair on Friday night, with the Lookouts winning 5-4 at AT&T Field in Chattanooga.  The Suns lost in extra innings for the first time this season and are now 2-1 when working overtime, with all three of the games on the road.  The Lookouts have gone into extra innings five times in their last 11 games.  Chattanooga is now 3-3 in extra-inning games this season. 

The Suns scored the first run of the game in the second inning against Lookouts starter Chris Withrow, when Shawn Bowman walked to lead off the inning and later scored on a single by Russell Mitchell to give Jacksonville a 1-0 advantage.  Mitchell has driven in nine runs this season. 

The Lookouts used the long ball to take the lead in the bottom half of the second against Suns starter Graham Taylor. After Brahiam Maldonado led off the home half of the inning with a single, Pedro Baez smashed his second home run of the season over the left field fence, a two-run blast that put the Lookouts in front 2-1. 

In the third inning, the Lookouts flexed their muscle again when Blake Smith hit a solo home run to right field off of Taylor to increase the lead to 3-1.  Taylor has given up a team-high seven home runs this season. 

Jacksonville cut into the lead in the fourth when Shawn Bowman led off inning by reaching base again, this time with a single.  Playing in his second straight game, catcher Jake Jefferies drove in Bowman with his second double of the year, and the Suns trailed 3-2.  

In the fifth, the Suns reclaimed the lead when Paul Gran walked, and Jake Smolinski reached on an error by shortstop Jake Lemmerman.  With two on and one out, Bowman continued his strong night at the plate when he doubled into the gap in right-center field, with Gran scoring from second and Smolinski hustling around from first  to give the Suns a 4-3 edge.  That would be the last run of the night.  After scoring four runs on four hits in the first five innings, the Suns had just three hits in the games final nine innings. 

In the home half of the seventh, Rafael Ynoa led off the inning with his first triple of the season.  He wasn’t on base for long, with Nick Buss driving him in with a single on a two strike pitch to tie the game 4-4.  Ynoa would later leave the game after he was injured on a head first slide into first base. 

In the fourteenth inning, lead off hitter Nick Buss was hit by a Josh Schmidt pitch and Luis Nunez singled to left.  After a ground out by J.T. Wise, the Suns walked Blake Smith intentionally to load the bases and take their chances with the pitcher, Blake Johnson.   With Chattanooga out of position players, Johnson was forced to grab a bat and take a trip to the plate.  With the Suns infield in, Johnson helped his own cause with his first hit of the season, sending a grounder back up the middle for the game-winning RBI to give the Lookouts a 5-4 victory.  In the series Lookouts pitchers have five hits against the Suns, with at least one hit in every game. 

This season, 20 of Jacksonville’s first 48 games have been decided by a single run, with the Suns 10-10 in those games.  The Suns won eight of their first 12 one-run games this year, but have won just two of the last eight games decided by the smallest of margins.  

Suns starter Graham Taylor took the mound at 7:20 p.m. for his tenth start of the season.  He allowed four runs on 10 hits over six innings and was long gone when the game ended four hours and nine minutes later.  Relievers Kyle Kaminska, A.J. Ramos, and Bobby Bramhall combined to pitch seven scoreless innings.  Josh Schmidt allowed two hits and the game-winning run the 14th inning to fall to 1-3 on the season. 

Chris Withrow started the game for the Lookouts, and allowed four runs on four hits over five innings.  Before the night was over, Lookouts manager Carlos Subero had made six calls to the bullpen.  In the end, Blake Johnson pitched two hitless innings to earn the win and improve to 2-3.    Both teams combined to use a dozen pitchers.  For the Lookouts, only Luis Vasquez and Allen Webster were left in the bullpen at the end of the night.  Zach Neal, Wade Korpi, and Evan Reed were the only Suns hurlers not to have their names called. 

Jacksonville hitters struck out a season-high 17 times on Friday.  In five of the last eight games, Suns batters have struck out at least 11 times.   Shawn Bowman went 3-for-4, drove in two of the Suns four runs and scored twice.  Jake Jefferies, Russell Mitchell, Danny Black, and Paul Gran each had one hit. 

The Lookouts tied a season-high with 16 hits with 11 players with at least one hit on the night.  Pedro Baez, Luis Nunez, Blake Smith, Jake Lemmerman, and Chris Withrow each finished with two hits apiece. 

Chattanooga has taken the first three games of the series, and won a season-high six straight games.  For the second time in the series the Suns scored the first run but ended up on the losing end.  Jacksonville is now 17-4 this season when scoring the first run of the game.  The Suns have been outscored 19-9 during their four game losing streak, and overall the Suns have just five wins in 21 games and have fallen into fifth place in the South Division.  The Lookouts increased their season-high winning streak to six games. 

Game four of the series is Saturday night with the first pitch slated for 7:15 p.m. from AT&T field in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  RHP Matthew Neil (0-0, 3.60) will make his second start of the season for the Suns.  Neil made his double-A debut May 20 against Pensacola, allowing two runs on five hits over five innings and did not figure in the decision.  The Lookouts will send RHP Nathon Eovaldi (2-2, 3.18) to the mound for his ninth start of the season.


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Suns Finish Road Trip With 11-7 Win

The Suns won 11-7 in their final visit to Regions Park in Birmingham. Jacksonville improved to 10-5 on the road and tied Mobile for first place in the South Division. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns collected 11 hits to win the series finale over Birmingham 11-7 on Saturday at Regions Park. 

The Suns scored six times in the first inning against Barons starter Cameron Bayne to jump out to a 6-0 lead.  The big hit in the inning was a base-clearing triple by Curt Smith.  Smith was 1-for-4 in the game with three RBI’s.  Kyle Jensen, Chris Gutierrez, and Russell Mitchell also drove in a run apiece in the first.
In the fourth the Suns exploded for five more runs and an 11-0 lead.  Kyle Skipworth hit his fifth home run of the season, a three-run blast to right field.  It was the Suns first home run in nine games.   Chris Gutierrez and Shawn Bowman also drove in runs in the inning.
The Barons scored three runs on four hits in the fourth to cut the lead to 11-3.  In the fifth inning Birmingham scored four more on four straight hits to make it 11-7.
Omar Poveda pitched five innings, allowing 10 hits and seven runs and earned the win to improve to 3-1.  The losing pitcher was Cameron Bayne.  He pitched three and two-thirds allowing 11 hits and 11 runs.  The Suns have won five of their first six series this season.
The Suns are tied with Mobile for first place in the South Division setting up a five-game series against the BayBears starting Sunday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.  The first pitch is scheduled for 6:05PM with Jose Alvarez on the mound for the Suns.

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Barons 5-2 Win Ends Suns Winning Streak

Right fielder Justin Greene drove in two runs and scored another in the Barons 5-2 win over the Suns. Photo Courtesy: Birmingham Barons

By Steve Kolbe
The Jacksonville Suns four game winning streak came to an end with a 5-2 loss in Birmingham on Thursday night.
The Barons took the lead in the third against Suns starter Zach Neal.  Damaso Espino led off the inning with a single and Justin Green followed with a ground-rule double.  Espino scored the first run of the night when Tyler Saladino lifted a sacrifice fly to center for a 1-0 Barons lead, and Drew Garcia then tripled to dive in his fifth run of the series and it was 2-0.  The final run of the inning crossed the plate when Garcia scored from third on a ground out to give Birmingham a 3-0 advantage.  The Suns fell to 3-11 when allowing the first run of the game.  Garcia’s triple was his third of the season and 17th for the Barons this season.  Birmingham has hit the most triples in Minor League Baseball.
Birmingham scored two more runs in the fourth inning, when Greene smashed his second double in as many innings to expand the Barons lead to 5-0.  Green finished the game 2-for-3 with two runs batted in and also scored a run.
The Suns scored their two runs in the eighth inning to avoid being shutout for the second time this season. Jake Smolinski and Shawn Bowman singled off Barons starter Pedro Hernandez, who would give way to reliever Ryan Kussmaul after throwing 99 pitches.  Russell Michell doubled to left off of Kussmaul to cut the lead to 5-2, but that was as close as the Suns would get.
Jake Smolinski and Russell Mitchell finished 2-for-4.  Smolinski has hit safely in four straight games since returning from an injury.  He has three straight multi-hit games.   Mitchell drove in Jacksonville’s only two runs, and in his eight games with the Suns he has seven RBI’s. 
Birmingham pitcher Pedro Hernandez won his third straight game to improve his record to 3-1.  Hernandez threw 99 pitches over seven and a-third innings of work, allowing eight hits and two runs.  Zach Neal lost his second straight start.  He pitched four innings, allowing seven hits and five runs.  Bobby Bramhall and Chris Squires combined to pitch four innings and allowed two hits.  The Suns are now 9-4 on the road, and over their last 17 games have a record of 12-5.

The Suns look to get back on track on Friday with Graham Taylor (2-1, 3.86) on the mound.  Taylor has won his last two starts allowing just two runs on eight hits over 13 innings against Mobile and Pensacola.  The Barons counter with Simon Castro (1-1, 4.65).  He’s given up 35 hits and 16 runs in his 31 innings of work in his five starts.  The first pitch is scheduled for 8:05EST from Regions Park in Birmingham.

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Suns Fast Start Sinks Blue Wahoos

Kyle Jensen and company celebrate after defeating Pensacola to give the Suns their 13th win in April. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns


By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns scored three runs in the first inning Saturday night on the way to a 5-2 win over Pensacola at the Baseball Grounds. 

Donnie Webb led off the game by reaching base on an error charged to shortstop Miguel Rojas.  It was the 12th time this season that the first batter of the game for the Suns has reached base.  Ryan Patterson then singled against Blue Wahoos starter Tim Crabbe, and both he and Webb advanced to second and third with no outs.  Shawn Bowman delivered with the runners in scoring position, a double to right field to drive in a pair of runs for a 2-0 Suns lead.  Bowman and Kyle Jensen are tied for the team lead with 13 runs batted in.  Jacksonville tacked on another run in the first when Russell Mitchell singled to drive in Bowman from second.  Mitchell has driven in four runs in his last three games.

Suns starting pitcher Graham Taylor was strong throughout, allowing only four singles through five innings.  He was able to keep the Pensacola bats silent, the Blue Wahoos had scored 17 runs on 26 hits in the last two games.  In the sixth inning, Pensacola broke through against Taylor when Henry Rodriguez beat out an infield single and Cody Puckett hit his first home run of the season to cut the Suns lead to 3-2.  Puckett hit 15 home runs last season with the Carolina Mudcats, which was good for second-most on the team.  He hit his first round-tripper this season in his 21st game of the year. 

Down by just a run and in search of their third straight win, the Blue Wahoos went to their bullpen in the sixth and seventh innings.  Drew Hayes and Wilkin De La Rosa struggled in the seventh allowing two runs, walking three batters, and hitting another.

The Suns sent eight men to the plate in the seventh, and with the bases loaded Kyle Skipworth was hit by a pitch on a full count to force in a run an increase the lead to 4-2.  It was Skipworth’s 12th run batted in this season.  Jose Duarte, Shawn Bowman, and Russell Mitchell each drew a base on balls in the inning, with Mitchell’s walk forcing in a run to make it 5-2. 

Graham Taylor improved his record to 2-1.  He pitched six innings allowing six hits and two runs, struck out five and walked only Ryan LaMarre, who was the first batter of the game.  In his last two starts, Taylor has allowed eight hits and just two runs in 13 innings of work.  Evan Reed earned his league-leading sixth save of the season by pitching two hitless innings and striking out two batters.  Tim Crabbe was the losing pitcher and is now 1-1 on the season.  He allowed seven hits and those three runs in the first inning, but none after that. 

Shawn Bowman finished 2-for-3, drove in two runs, and scored another.  Kyle Jensen went 2-for-4 and has had at least one hit in all four games in the series against the Wahoos.  Russell Mitchell was 1-for-3 with two runs batted in.  The Suns scored in the first inning for the ninth time this season, and are now 12-1 when scoring the game’s first run.  With the win the Suns improved to 13-11, and are now 6-8 at home.  

The rubber game of the series between the Suns and Blue Wahoos is Sunday afternoon at 3:05 pm.  The game will also be televised on CW-17.


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11 Singles Power Blue Wahoos To 9-3 Win

The Blue Wahoos collected a dozen hits in route to a win over the Suns at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns


Steve Kolbe

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos topped the Jacksonville Suns 9-3 on Thursday night at the Baseball Grounds.  The win snapped the Suns five-game winning streak over the Wahoos. 

Pensacola jumped out to a lead in the first inning when Ryan LaMarre and Henry Rodriguez both singled, and with one out Joel Guzman doubled to left to drive in the first run.  A batter later it was 2-0 when Rodriguez scored on Brodie Greene’s ground out.  It was a tough first inning for Suns starter Bryan Evans.  He allowed three hits, two runs, and walked a batter. 

In the bottom of the inning Jacksonville cut the lead in half when Ryan Patterson singled, stole second, and scored on a throwing error by Pensacola catcher Mark Fleury.  The Suns took the lead in the third inning when Patterson and Kyle Skipworth both walked and came around to score when Russell Mitchell doubled into left to give Jacksonville a 3-2 advantage.  Patterson has scored four runs in the last two games. 

That Blue Wahoos scored the next seven runs in the game.  Pensacola sent nine men to the plate in the fourth and scored three runs to take a 5-3 lead.  Josh Fellhauer, Mark Fleury, and Mark Serrano all walked and scored in the inning.  In the game, the Wahoos drew eight walks and five of them came around to score. 

Pensacola scored two more in the sixth and seventh innings to build a 9-3 lead.  Joel Guzman finished 4-for-5 and drove in three runs.  Henry Rodriguez went 4-for-5, scored two runs and drove in another.  11 of the Blue Wahoos 12 hits in the game were singles. 

The Suns were held to four hits in the game.  Russell Mitchell drove in two of Jacksonville’s three runs, the other was unearned.  The Suns dropped to 1-9 this season when allowing the game’s first run. 

Bryan Evans dropped to 0-2.  He pitched three and two-thirds innings, allowing five hits and five runs but only two were earned.  Evans walked five and struck out two.  The winning pitcher was Mark Serrano.  He tossed three scoreless innings to improve to 2-0.

Game three of the series is Friday night with Zach Neal (2-1, 1.42) taking the mound for the Suns.  The Blue Wahoos counter with Daniel Corcino (0-1, 4.12). 

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