Jackson, Tenn. - Despite a third consecutive quality start from right-hander Taylor Clarke (8-5, 2.68 ERA), the Jackson Generals dropped Thursday's opener against Montgomery 6-1 on Thursday. The Generals (11-10, 48-43) stayed within two runs of the Biscuits (10-10, 48-43) through the first eight innings, but a pair of ninth-inning home runs by Montgomery's Nick Ciuffo and Nathan Lukes iced the victory for the visitors.
Clarke, a 2017 Midseason All-Star, continues to pitch with confidence, allowing just two runs over the first six innings of Thursday's game. He struck out five and did not walk a batter in his eighth quality start of the year, but the Generals managed only two runs of support, leaving 11 men on base in the loss.
Down by a pair of runs entering the final frame, Generals reliever Bud Jeter walked Andrew Velasquez to open the inning. A pitch-out attempt on the first delivery to Nick Ciuffo popped out of the mitt of catcher Michael Perez, allowing Velasquez to reach second base unabated. Ciuffo golfed the next pitch just over the 24-foot wall in left field, turning a two-run deficit into a more daunting 5-1 margin. Lukes lined one over the right field wall two batters later, and the Generals did not manage a run in their final at-bat. Jordan Harrison (S, 2) recorded the save, throwing two scoreless innings of relief to finish the game.
Clarke's only two blemishes came early in his start. After a four-batter first inning, the Ashburn, Va. native hit Montgomery's Dalton Kelly with a pitch to begin the second inning. Kelly stole second base with Velasquez batting two hitters later, and then Velasquez poked an RBI single into shallow left field that brought Kelly around to score. A third inning solo home run from Grant Kay was the last run Montgomery would score of Clarke, who retired 10 of the final 12 hitters he faced. His 69 strikes matched a season-high.
Jackson got on the board with a leadoff double by Domingo Leyba in the third inning. Kevin Medrano flew out to right field next, and Leyba raced to third after tagging up, narrowly beating the strong throw from Montgomery right fielder Justin Williams. Kevin Cron then lined a single into right field to score Leyba, taylling Jackson's lone run.
Montgomery starter Genesis Cabrera (3-1, 2.42 ERA) went stride for stride with Clarke. The 20-year-old Cabrera scattered nine Jackson hits in his fourth start at Double-A, striking out five without walking anyone over seven innings. He stranded nine Jackson runners on the basepaths and did not permit any Generals to reach base with two outs in his final four innings of work.
Leyba and Evan Marzilli each had three total bases in the defeat, with Cron recording his league-leading 64th RBI of the year. Gabe Speier worked a scoreless seventh inning in relief before passing the reins to Jeter. The Generals went 1-for-11 with men in scoring position.
The Generals continue their five-game series against the Montgomery Biscuits on Friday, as Brad Keller (6-6, 4.69 ERA) goes against Montgomery's Edwin Fierro (4-2, 2.83 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.
Game two is a Leaders Credit Union Food Truck Friday, featuring a bevy of local food trucks in the fun zone! The Generals will also play as the Hub City Hippos, as they do at every Friday home game! The special game-worn and signed jerseys will be auctioned off at year's end with proceeds going to the Boys & Girls Club of Jackson thanks to Tennessee 811!
The series is highlighted by 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.