Jackson, Tenn. - The Jackson Generals, the Double-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks, used three home runs and stellar pitching to cut down the Montgomery Biscuits on Friday night, winning 4-0 at The Ballpark at Jackson.
The Generals (2-1) are within one win of advancing to the Southern League Championship Series for the second straight year, but the remaining games of the best-of-five series will be played at Riverwalk Stadium, the home park for the Biscuits (1-2).
For the first time since June 23, right-hander Bo Takahashi (1-0, 0.00 ERA) threw six innings without allowing a run to the Montgomery offense. He walked four batters and struck out only two, but he also stranded runners in five of six innings to keep the Biscuits scoreless. Takahashi and battery mate Renae Martinez kept the Biscuits --- who tallied 213 stolen bases in the regular season --- without a successful steal for the second night in a row. Takahashi kept the ball in the park as well, denying any home runs to a Montgomery side who had gone deep against him three times previously in 2019. As his pitch count climbed into the eighties, Takahashi gave up a pair of hits to open the seventh inning, and Jackson manager Blake Lalli turned the ball over to left-hander Miguel Aguilar in relief.
Aguilar, who had recorded a league-leading 13 combined holds and saves since June 1, entered with men at second and third in top of the seventh and no outs, holding a three-run lead. Aguilar ended a feisty battle with Montgomery's Vidal Brujan by inducing a hard groundout to third baseman Drew Ellis, getting the critical first out without allowing either runner to advance. The second man he faced, Lucius Fox, hit a similar ground ball to the left side, and Ellis gloved it and immediately threw home, helping Martinez get runner David Rodriguez in a rundown that led to a simple tag-out. Miles Mastrobuoni advanced to third base on the play, putting Fox at first and Mastrobuoni at third with two outs and Taylor Walls at the plate. Aguilar then struck out Walls to conclude a masterful escape, earning Aguilar his first hold of the postseason in his first appearance since August 20.
Junior Garcia took over for Aguilar and strong-armed the Biscuits with a pair of strikeouts in a three-batter eighth inning, and West Tunnell closed the game with a three-batter ninth inning. The Generals kept the Biscuits hitless in five chances with men in scoring position, earning a much-needed victory after a long bus ride from Montgomery brought them into Jackson at 4:30 a.m. on Friday morning.
For the second night in a row, the Generals' offense took their cues from All-Star third baseman Drew Ellis. Held scoreless into the third inning, Pavin Smith reached base with a two-out single, and Ellis unloaded on a 1-2 pitch from Montgomery's Joe Ryan (0-1, 5.40 ERA), smacking his second homer in as many nights to put the Generals on the board, 2-0. Five pitches later, Seth Beer joined in by crushing his first homer of the playoffs, giving the Generals a 3-0 lead with a drive that hit the scoreboard in right-center field. The Generals posted back-to-back home runs for the second time in the space of a week at The Ballpark at Jackson --- following the pair of jacks by Ryan Grotjohn and Camden Duzenack on August 30 against Jacksonville --- but they weren't done. Ellis doubled in his third plate appearance, and in his fourth at-bat of the evening, he cracked his second homer of the game and third in two nights, mashing the Generals ahead 4-0 in the eighth for a little late-inning insurance.
Ellis finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three runs driven in, raising his playoff-leading RBI total to seven over three games. Ellis also tied with Pensacola's Alex Kiriloff for the league lead with three postseason homers, and he leads the circuit with a whopping 1.955 OPS on 16 total bases over 11 at-bats.
The series shifts back to Montgomery's Riverwalk Stadium for Game 4, which looms on Saturday evening at 6:05pm. If Montgomery wins to force a fifth game, it would be played on Sunday in Montgomery, with a first-pitch time still to be announced. Should Jackson advance to the Southern League Championship Series, they would have the right to host Games 3, 4, and 5 next week at The Ballpark at Jackson. Those games would begin on either Thursday, September 12, or Friday, September 13, depending on the conclusion of the divisional round.
The Jackson Generals, a West Tennessee franchise since 1998, are the Double-A minor league affiliate of Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks. The Generals play at The Ballpark at Jackson, Tennessee's 2017 & 2018 Pro Sports Field of the Year. Next June, The Ballpark at Jackson will host the 2020 Southern League All-Star Game, and you can purchase 2020 season tickets today by calling 731.988.5299 or visiting JacksonGeneralsBaseball.com!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.