Suns starter Graham Taylor (above left)threw three-hit complete game to lead Jacksonville past Birmingham 5-0 in game one. Keyle Jensen(above right)hit his 20th home run of the season in the Suns 5-3 comeback win in the night cap at the Baseball Grounds August 21, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns
By Steve Kolbe
The Jacksonville Suns swept a double-header from the Birmingham Barons, winning game one 5-0 with a dominant performance from starter Graham Taylor, and the Suns turned up the power to claim the night cap 5-3. It’s the first time this season that the Suns have swept both games of a twin bill.
The Suns broke the ice in game one in the second inning against Barons starter Nestor Molina. Kyle Jensen led off the inning with his 19th home run of the season to put the Suns in front 1-0. The Suns improved their record to 47-22 when scoring the first run of the game.
The Suns were turned away by Molina after loading the bases with no outs in the fifth, but Jacksonville added some insurance in the home half of the sixth, loading the bases for a second straight inning. Singles by Ben Lasater and Kyle Skipworth and a walk by Kyle Jensen loaded the bases with no outs. Jake Jefferies delivered a RBI-single with Lasater cruising home to increase the Suns lead to 2-0. The Barons summoned Salvador Sanchez from the bullpen, and he walked Danny Pertusati on four pitches to force in Skipworth from third to make the score 3-0. After Jensen hustled home on a wild pitch to pad the lead to 4-0, Dallas Poulk capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly plating Jefferies for the 5-0 final.
Kyle Skipworth and Jake Jefferies each finished 2-for-3 for the Suns. Jacksonville has 13 shutouts this season, with 11 of them tossed at the Baseball Grounds. The Barons were blanked for the seventh time this season.
Taylor (8-10) allowed just three singles for the complete game seven-inning win. In his previous start this season against the Barons, Taylor allowed a season-high 12 hits in an 8-3 loss May 4th at Hoover, Alabama. The win Tuesday was Taylor’s first complete game of the season. Another Suns lefty, Jose Alvarez, is tied for the league lead with three complete games. Nestor Molina (4-10) surrendered five runs on nine hits in the loss. Molina won three of his first five starts this season, but has just one victory in his last 15 outings.
The Suns capped of the night in come-from-behind fashion, falling behind the Barons 3-0 in the second game. James Leverton retired the first 11 batters he faced, but with two outs in the top of the fourth the Barons put together a two-out rally. Trayce Thompson walked and scored when Andy Wilkins doubled to the gap in left center to give the Barons a 1-0 lead. Brady Shoemaker followed with a double to right-center, with Wilkins scoring to increase the lead to 2-0. Shoemaker added a RBI-single in the sixth inning to hand Birmingham a 3-0 cushion.
The Suns powered their way to the comeback in the home half of the sixth against Barons starter Spencer Arroyo, hitting three home runs. Leadoff man Jake Smolinski smashed the first pitch he saw over the left field wall to put the Suns on the board. Smolinski has hit all six of his homers in the second half of the season. After Chris Gutierrez walked and Zack Cox singled, Kyle Jensen cleared the bases with his second home run of the double header to put the Suns in front to stay 4-3. Jensen is one of only five players in the Southern League with 20 or more round trippers. Kyle Skipworth made it back-to-back home runs in the inning, when he belted his 18th home run of the season to help the Suns claim the night cap 5-3. Skipworth also homered against the Barons May 5th.
The Suns have won six of their eight games against the Barons this season. With a record of 21-12 at home in the second half, the Suns have more wins than any team in the league on their home turf. Jacksonville is 10-3 in the last 13 games at the Baseball Grounds, with five of the victories by shutout.
Jake Smolinski went 2-for-3 for his 23rd multi-hit game of the season. Kyle Jensen has belted six three-run home runs this season, with half of them in the month of August. Jensen has left the yard five times in the last six games.
Collin Cargill (1-0) earned his first win with the Suns. Spencer Arroyo (6-4) allowed five runs on seven hits in the loss. Arroyo allowed three home runs in the sixth inning on Tuesday, after giving up just four all season.
Game four of the series is Wednesday with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM. RHP Bryan Evans (5-7, 4.31) will start for the Suns. RHP Jacob Petricka (2-2, 3.59) takes the mound for the Barons.