Errors allow Stars to burn Biscuits

Huntsville snares Southern League Finals opener on Montgomery miscues

(Jerry Hale/

September 12, 2006 6:29 PM

Huntsville took advantage of five Montgomery errors, including two in the three-run eighth inning, to take Game 1 of the Southern League Championship Series, 6-4.

The Biscuits had a 4-3 lead in the eighth and closer Jean Machi (0-1) on the mound. Machi, who had saved 16 games and posted a 6-1 record in the regular season, proceeded to give up a single and two straight walks -- on eight pitches -- to load the bases.

Huntsville's Steve Moss hit a grounder that third baseman Evan Longoria couldn't handle, which allowed Jeffrey Eure to score from third and tie the game.

Brian Henderson relieved Machi and got Callix Crabbe to ground to shortstop Reid Brignac, whose errant throw home allowed Lou Palmisano to score, giving the Stars a 5-4 advantage. Ryan Braun capped the comeback with a sacrifice fly.

The Stars tied the game in the sixth, 2-2, behind two bases-loaded walks by Brendan Katin and Palmisano. They took the lead an inning later when Moss scored on a throwing error by second baseman Elliot Johnson.

Starter Jeff Niemann, who took a no-hitter into the sixth, and Machi combined to walk seven Stars while Longoria and Brignac each made two errors. Just three of the Stars' six runs were earned.

Michael Coleman's two-run single in the eighth drove in Justin Ruggiano and Longoria.

Brignac, who went 0-for-11 in the division series, lifted a solo homer in the fifth.

Huntsville reliever Travis Phelps (1-0) picked up the win, despite giving up three hits, a walk and two runs over two frames. Joe Valentine earned his second postseason save with a perfect ninth.

Starter Tim Dillard allowed two runs on six hits over six innings, striking out six and walking three.

Machi gave up three runs -- one earned -- without recording an out in the eighth. Niemann allowed two runs on two hits in the sixth. He struck out eight and walked five over 5 2/3 innings.

It was Montgomery's first loss of the postseason, which is the first playoff run in the Stars' five-year history.

Huntsville hosts Game 2 of the best-of-5 series at 7:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Max Lance is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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