Jackson, Tenn. - A series between the Southern League's two best offenses is going exactly as it sounds. After 19 combined hits on Thursday, the Jackson Generals and Montgomery Biscuits totaled 28 knocks on Friday, with Montgomery winning an 8-5 affair. A combined 24 men were left on base in the contest, which featured 33 aggregate opportunities with runners in scoring position.
Montgomery (12-10, 49-43) took a 2-0 lead in the series with the victory, led by a four-hit night from third baseman Grant Kay. Jackson (48-44, 11-11) got a three-hit night from catcher Michael Perez, but the Generals' collection of five one-run innings could not keep up with a four-run fifth inning and a three-run eighth inning from the visitors.
The teams entered the eighth inning tied at five runs apiece. Montgomery's Andrew Velasquez bunted for a base hit to begin the inning, and Nick Ciuffo followed with a second consecutive bunt attempt. Jackson pitcher Yuhei Nakaushiro (1-2, 2.40 ERA) fielded the bunt and threw to second base to try and put out Velasquez, but the throw missed the mark. It would prove costly.
With Velasquez and Ciuffo aboard, Michael Russell hit a deep fly-out to left field, allowing Velasquez to tag up and move to third base. Nakaushiro got the next hitter, Nathan Lukes, to strike out, but that would be the last out he recorded. An RBI single from Kay followed, plating Velasquez for a 6-5 lead. Joe McCarthy then walked to reload the bases, and a Cade Gotta 2-run single extended the Biscuits' lead to 8-5, chasing Nakaushiro. Josh Taylor succeeded him, walking another hitter before getting a groundout to end the inning.
The Biscuits' big eighth inning followed a steady rally from the Generals, who scored runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings to bring the score even. Perez and Domingo Leyba were involved in all three scores, with Perez getting the comeback going by driving in Leyba in the fifth inning. Leyba did his part in the sixth, stroking a single to plate a resurgent Kelly Dugan, drawing Jackson within a run.
After two outs were recorded in the seventh inning, Perez stepped to the plate as the only Generals hitter without a home run in 2017. That changed on a 3-2 pitch from Montgomery's Ian Gibaut (3-1 2.23 ERA), whose offering Perez golfed over the 24-foot wall in left field for an opposite-field home run. The blast brought the Generals even, as Perez homered for the first time since August 30, 2016.
Neither team scored more than one run in any of the first four frames, but Montgomery finally got to Generals starter Brad Keller in the fifth. Keller, who did not factor in the decision, gave up three consecutive singles to Lukes, Kay, and McCarthy to begin the inning, with the third scoring Lukes for a 2-2 tie. A walk to Gotta loaded the bases for the Biscuits, and Dalton Kelly managed a sacrifice fly to center field that brought in Kay with the go-ahead run. Justin Williams then doubled for the Biscuits to clear the bases, rousting Keller from the hill. Drew Muren retired the next two hitters in order to calm the waters.
Muren and Taylor each recorded scoreless relief appearances for Jackson in the loss, with neither one allowing any of their inherited runners to score. Dugan shook off a 3-for-33 Second Half slump with a pair of doubles and a walk in four plate appearances. Kevin Medrano, Stewart Ijames, and Jamie Westbrook all tallied two hits in the contest, as every General in the starting lineup hit safely at least once. The game featured three lead changes and two ties in all.
The Generals continue their five-game series against the Montgomery Biscuits on Saturday, as Alex Young (5-5, 4.64 ERA) goes against Montgomery's Jose Mujica (8-6, 3.31 ERA) in game two. First pitch from The Ballpark at Jackson is set for 6:05 pm CT, and fans can follow along by tuning in on Willie 94 FM & 1390 AM starting with the Pregame Show at 5:50 pm CT.
It's Disney Night on Saturday, sponsored by Tennessee Donor Services! It's one of the biggest nights of the summer in Jackson, so get your tickets now! We'll have a special Disney-themed Fireworks Show after the game, one of four shows in July! One lucky fan will also win a Disney Vacation!
Make sure to get your tickets now to see the 20th season of professional baseball in Jackson, and the first for the team as an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks! Call the team at (731) 988.5299, stop by The Ballpark or go online to jacksongeneralsbaseball.com to secure your seats now!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.