Tag Archives: Todd Cunningham

Taylor Pitches Suns Past Braves

Suns starter Graham Taylor(above)allowed one run in seven innings of work to help Jacksonville edge the Mississippi Braves 2-1 at the Baseball Grounds. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe 

 
The Jacksonville Suns (15-15) reached the .500 mark for the first time since the eighth game of the second half, slipping past the Mississippi Braves 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at the Baseball Grounds.
 
Before many were in their seats on the sunny afternoon, Braves leadoff hitter Todd Cunningham hit his first home run of the season off of Suns starter Graham Taylor to give Mississippi the early 1-0 edge.  It was the lone mistake that Taylor made in the game. The first three Braves batters of the afternoon each reached base, but Taylor settled down and allowed just four total base runners (three singles and a walk) over his last six innings of work.  The Braves have hit just 31 home runs on the season, fewest in the Southern League, but blasted four in the series against the Suns.
 
In a game dominated by the starters, the Suns had trouble solving Braves right hander Zeke Spruill, with just two singles over the first four innings.  In the fifth, Curt Smith and Danny Pertusati each singled to start the inning.  After Graham Taylor grounded into a force at third, Jake Smolinski singled to left field with Pertusati scoring from second base to tie the score 1-1.  After going hitless in the Suns four game series against the Blue Wahoos, Smolinski collected at least one hit in his three games against the Braves. 
 
In the Suns eighth inning, it was all about the sacrifice.  Two days after driving in all five of the Suns runs, Donnie Webb once again found himself in the center of the offense.  He led off the eighth with a double, when Braves left fielder Tim Smith made a diving attempt on the ball only to come up empty handed.  Jake Smolinski gave himself up when he dropped down a sacrifice bunt, with Webb hustling to third base.  Chris Gutierrez continued the unselfish play with a sacrifice fly to left, with Webb coasting home to give the Suns a 2-1 lead and the win.  For Gutierrez, it was his first RBI of the season against Mississippi. 
 
Graham Taylor allowed one run on five hits over his seven innings of work in the no-decision.  In his last three outings, the lefty has surrendered only two runs in 18 innings.  Josh Schmidt (5-3) pitched the eighth inning on Sunday to win for the second time in his last three appearances.  He also tossed an inning last week in a victory at Pensacola.  Suns closer A.J. Ramos entered the game in the ninth and gave up a single and a walk, but he struck out Cunningham to end the game and earn his 13th save of the season.  Ramos rebounded from a tough loss in game two of the series, when he was nicked for five runs in the ninth in the Braves 8-5 comeback win.
 
Braves starter Zeke Spruill (6-10) pitched a complete game in the loss.  He allowed two runs on seven hits, and the only extra base hit he allowed was an eighth inning double to Donnie Webb.
 
Jeff Dominguez and Danny Pertusati each finished with two singles for the Suns.  Chris Gutierrez saw his 15-game hitting come to an end, but he drove in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly for his 30th RBI of the season.  Gutierrez batted .340 (19-for-58) during the streak.
 
The Suns have won seven of their last nine games, with five of the victories by a single run.  Jacksonville claimed the season series over Mississippi by winning five of the nine meetings.  The Suns have won back-to-back series for the first time since early June.  The Braves have dropped eight of their last 10 games, and currently reside in the basement of the South Division.
 
The Suns begin a five-game series against the Tennessee Smokies on Tuesday night with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m..  RHP Matthew Neil (1-5, 5.59) is expected to take the mound for the Suns.  Jacksonville has taken both previous series from Tennessee this season, winning five of the eight games.

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Suns Edge Braves

Jose Alvarez(above)allowed just two runs on eight hits in the Suns 3-2 win over the Mississippi Braves to earn his first win in a month. He went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, and also stole a base. Photo Courtesy: Jacksonville Suns

By Steve Kolbe

The Jacksonville Suns built a 3-0 lead over the Mississippi Braves, and hung on for a 3-2 victory on Saturday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.  The Suns have won six of the last eight games. 
 
The Suns figured out Braves starter Gary Moran in the fourth inning.  Jake Smolinski and Chris Gutierrez both singled, and went to second and third on a ground out by Jeff Dominguez.  Kyle Jensen then drove in the first run of the night with a ground out to put the Suns up 1-0.  Jensen leads the Suns with 47 runs batted in.  With their second one-run win in the series, the Suns improved to 17-18 in games decided by a single digit.
 
In the sixth inning Chris Gutierrez was hit by a pitch, Jeff Dominguez singled, and Kyle Jensen singled to load the bases with no outs.  Ben Lasater then jumped on the first offering from Moran, driving in two runs with a single, with both Gutierrez and Dominguez scoring to increase the lead to 3-0.
 
The Braves managed just five hits in the first seven innings against Alvarez, and didn’t have more than one hit in any inning until the eighth.  Todd Cunningham bunted his way on, and Jaime Pedroza doubled behind him to put runners on second and third with one out.  After Joe Terdoslavich popped up, Tim Smith delivered a two-out single with both Cunningham and Pedroza scoring to cut the Suns lead to 3-2.  Josh Schmidt entered the game and struck out Joe Leonard to end the inning.  In a twist from the first two games of the series, Suns reliever Jon Link made sure that there wouldn’t be a ninth inning comeback in this one.

Suns manager Andy Barkett was ejected in the sixth inning after arguing a play at the plate, when Kyle Jensen was called out at home after Braves catcher Matt Kennelly made a sweeping tag.  It was the fifth time that Barkett has been thrown out this season, by five different umpiring crews. 

Jake Smolinski finished 2-for-4 and scored a run for the Suns.  Jose Alvarez went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and stole a base.  Alvarez and Graham Taylor are the only Suns pitchers with two hits in a game this season.  Chris Gutierrez extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a third inning single.  Ben Lasater drove in two of the Suns three runs.  Joe Terdoslavich collected three of the Braves eight hits in the game.
 
Suns starter Jose Alvarez (3-5) allowed two runs on eight hits to record his first win in a month.  He has surrendered two runs or fewer in four of his last five starts.  Alvarez hadn’t won since blanking Tennessee June 22, when he was named the Southern League pitcher of the week.  Jon Link has emerged from the Suns bullpen to figure in both wins in the series.  He earned the win in the first game of the series, and threw just eight pitches in the ninth for the save on Saturday.  Braves starter Gary Moran (3-8) allowed three runs on eight hits in the loss. 
 
The Suns will look to win the series on Sunday with the first pitch slated for 3:05 p.m. from the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.  LHP Graham Taylor (5-8, 4.44) will start for the Suns.  RHP Zeke Spruill (6-9, 4.18) takes the hill for the Braves.
 
 
 
 

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Braves Rally In Ninth For Win Over Suns

The Braves scored five runs in the ninth inning against Suns closer A.J. Ramos for an 8-5 win at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville July 20, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Mississippi Braves

By Steve Kolbe

The Mississippi Braves scored five runs in the ninth inning to defeat the Suns 8-5 on Friday night at the Baseball Grounds.  The Braves won for the first time this season when trailing going into the ninth (1-43).  The Suns lost for just the second time when leading heading into the ninth inning (37-2). 

The Suns took a 2-0 lead in the home half of the fifth, when Donnie Webb hit a two-run home run to right field off of Braves starter J.R. Graham.  It was Webb’s first home run since June 23rd and his sixth round tripper of the season. 

Mississippi scored three runs on three hits in the seventh inning against Suns starter Bryan Evans to take a 3-2 advantage.  Todd Cunningham drove two of the runs with a double off of reliever Jordan Conley.  In the home half of the seventh, the Suns loaded the bases when Kyle Jensen and Danny Pertusati walked, and Jeff Dominguez singled.  Donnie Webb then doubled in the gap in right-center to clear the bases and put the Suns in front 5-3. 

A.J. Ramos entered the game for the ninth, and for just the third time this season was unable to lock down the win.  The Braves took advantage of three walks, and a pair RBI singles by Christian Bethancourt and Joe Terdoslavich to tie the game 5-5.  With the bases loaded and two outs, Keenan Wiley hit a ball to center field that glanced of off Donnie Webb’s glove while he was attempting to make the catch, with three runs crossing the plate to give the Braves an 8-5 win. 

Only three Suns players had hits in the game.  Donnie Webb went 2-for-5 and drove in all five runs.  It’s the second-most runs batted in for a Suns player in a game this season (Kyle Skipworth drove in six at Chattanooga May 26th).  Jeff Dominguez had three singles, and Chris Gutierrez singled to increase his hitting streak to 15 games.  Christian Bethancourt, Joe Terdoslavich, and Jason Christian each collected two hits for the Braves. 

Starter Bryan Evans allowed three runs on six hits over six and a-third innings in a no decision.  A.J. Ramos (3-1) allowed five runs (2 ER) on two hits in the ninth inning and lost for the first time this season.  All three batters he walked in the inning came around to score.  Cory Rasmus (2-3) allowed just one hit over two innings to earn the win. 

The Suns missed out on a chance to get back to the .500 mark for the first time since June 28, when they were 4-4.  Playing at home hasn’t been an advantage lately for the Suns, with just two wins in their last seven games at the Baseball Grounds.

Game three of the series is Saturday from the Baseball Grounds with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m.  LHP Jose Alvarez (2-5, 4.05) will start for the Suns.  RHP Gary Moran (3-7, 3.15) takes the hill for the Braves.

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Braves Spoil Suns Chance At .500

 By Steve Kolbe

The Suns scored twice in a ninth inning rally, but fell short in a 4-3 loss to the Mississippi Braves Saturday night at Trustmark Park.
 
The game was scoreless through the first six innings with Suns starter Graham Taylor allowing just two hits, and Braves starter David Hale surrendering only three singles.  Jacksonville scored the first run of night in the seventh inning, when right fielder Kyle Jensen led off by hitting his eighth home run of the season to give the Suns a 1-0 edge.
 
Taylor ran into trouble in the Braves half of the seventh.  With one out, Joe Terdoslavich walked and Christian Bethancourt and Keenan Wiley both singled to load the bases.  The Suns left Taylor on the mound to face pinch hitter Ian Gac, who hit a hard grounder that glanced off the glove of third baseman Shawn Bowman and deflected into left field, with Terdoslavich and Bethancourt scoring to give the Braves a 2-1 lead.
 
Mississippi scored two more insurance runs in the eighth inning against reliever Evan Reed.  Todd Cunningham singled to right and stole second base.  Tim Smith then singled to left, driving in Cunningham to increase the lead to 3-1.  Pinch runner Alden Carrithers stole second base, and he scored when Joe Terdoslavich doubled to the left field wall for a 4-1 Braves advantage. 
 
The Suns rallied in the ninth inning against Braves closer Mark Lamm, scoring two runs on three hits.  Kyle Jensen and Kyle Skipworth singled to put runners on the corners with one out.  Curt Smith then drove in Jensen with a single to cut the lead to 4-2.  Paul Gran’s sacrifice fly to right field plated Skipworth to make the score 4-3, but Lamm stuck out Jose Duarte to end the threat. 
 
Suns shortstop Chris Gutierrez finished 2-for-4 with two singles and extended his hit streak to 15 games.  He is batting .360 (20-for-56) during the streak.  Not to be out done, Braves center fielder Todd Cunningham singled in his last at bat to extend his hit streak to 15 games.  The longest hitting streak in the Southern League this season is a 16-game streak by Pensacola’s Henry Rodriguez.
 
Kyle Jensen and Curt Smith also finished with two hits for Jacksonville.  Jensen hit his first home run in the month of June.  Christian Bethancourt, Joe Terdoslavich, and Keenan Wiley had two hits each for Mississippi.
 
Suns manager Andy Barkett was ejected in the middle of the fourth inning.  Curt Smith appeared to have stolen second base, when the throw from Braves catcher Christian Bethancourt got away from Phil Gosselin covering the bag.  Smith was called out, and Barkett was then thrown out by third base umpire Matt McCoy when he argued the call.  Barkett has been tossed out three times this season, and twice by the same umpiring crew.
 
Graham Taylor (4-6) pitched six and two-thirds innings, and had a two-hitter going into the seventh.  He allowed two runs on six hits and stuck out four.  David Hale (5-3) tossed seven innings, allowing four singles and the solo home run to Jensen.  Hale entered the night having walked the fifth-most batters in the league, but on Saturday he didn’t issue a free pass.  Mark Lamm wiggled his way out of the ninth inning jam to earn his eighth save of the season.
 
The Suns have scored the first run in all four games of the series, but have lost twice.  Jacksonville is 27-7 this season when crossing the plate first.  The Suns are 19-15 on the road this season, and are one of just three teams that can finish the first half with 20 or more road victories.
 
The series finale is Sunday from Trustmark Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:00 p.m. EST.  RHP Matthew Neil (1-1, 4.67) will start his 6th game of the season for the Suns.  LHP Sean Gilmartin (4-6, 3.40) takes the hill for his 14th start of the year for the Braves.  Three of Gillmartin’s wins have been complete games, most in the Southern League.
 

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Evans Leads Suns Past Braves

By Steve Kolbe

A day after allowing a season-high 13 runs, the Jacksonville Suns rebounded for a 6-1 win over the Braves at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi on Friday night. 

The Suns broke the ice in the first inning against Braves starter Luis Avilan.  Donnie Webb led off the inning with a walk, and Jake Smolinski reached on a throwing error by third baseman Joe Terdoslavich, with Webb advancing to third on the play.  Avilan then threw his fourth wild pitch of the season, with Webb scoring to give the Suns a 1-0 advantage.  The Suns have scored at least one run in the first inning in 18 games this season, and are 15-3 in those games.  Jacksonville is now 26-6 when crossing the plate first. 

In the third inning, Webb found himself in the middle of the offense again when he led off with a single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Shawn Bowman to increase the Suns lead to 2-0.   

Suns starter Bryan Evans baffled the Braves throughout the night, and after allowing a single in the first inning he retired the next 16 batters he faced until the seventh inning.  In the seventh, Keenan Wiley led off with a bunt single and went to second on a sacrifice bunt.  With two outs, Tim Smith put the Braves on the board with a RBI single, with Wiley scoring to cut the Suns lead to 2-1.  Kyle Kaminska took over for Evans to record the final out of the inning. 

In the eighth inning, the Suns scored four runs against reliever Brett Cammons, all with two outs.  Jake Smolinksi walked and scored when Shawn Bowman hit his team-leading 16th double of the season, and the lead was 3-1.  Kyle Jensen extended the inning when he reached base on an infield single, with Smolinski moving around to third to put runners on the corners.  Curt Smith delivered the big hit in the inning, with a towering three-run home run to left field to pad the Suns lead to 6-1.  After going without a round tripper since the first series of the year, Smith has now hit two home runs in his last four games. 

The Suns have won seven of their last 10 road games, and improved to 19-14 away from home this season.  Jacksonville has scored at least five runs in six of their last seven road wins.  The Suns won for just the second time this season on Friday (2-9).  The Braves have lost six of their last eight games overall.  Mississippi has won two games in a row only once in the last 22 games. 

Suns shortstop Chris Gutierrez extended his hit streak to 14 games with a single in the third inning.  He hasn’t gone hitless since May 30th.  Mississippi center fielder Todd Cunningham also increased his hit streak to 14 consecutive games with a single in the first.  Shawn Bowman drove in two runs for the Suns, and now leads the team with 32 runs batted in.  Curt Smith has hit two three-run home runs in the last week, and he now has 27 runs batted in this season. 

Bryan Evans entered the game among the top five pitchers in the league in lowest batting average against.  He had a dominant performance, pitching six and two-thirds innings and allowing one run on three hits to improve his record to 2-4.  He has won his last two decisions.  Evans struck out a season-high eight batters, including striking out the side in the second inning and retiring the side in the third on just nine pitches.  Evans retired 16 Braves in a row after allowing a single in the first inning.  Kyle Kaminska and A.J. Ramos combined to pitch the final two and a-third innings. 

Braves starter Luis Avilan pitched a season-high six innings, allowing just two hits and one earned run, but saw his record fall to 1-5 on the season.

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