2017 First Half Highlights

As we prepare for the Second Half of the 2017 Southern League season, we thought it’d be timely (and fun) to look back on some of the highlights from the First Half. This is not a complete list – we encourage you to comment below on what moments you enjoyed, and you are more than welcome to Tweet at us (@JacksonGenerals) or email us (JacksonGeneralsBroadcast@gmail.com) with memories of your own.

*=Generals player voted into the 2017 Southern League Mid-Season All-Star Game

FRIDAY, APRIL 7th VS. BIRMINGHAM

Reyes Makes The Hippos HappyReyes HR 480

Generals outfielder Victor Reyes made a difference in his second Double-A game, playing a key role in a 3-2 victory over the Barons. Reyes hit the Generals’ first home run of the year over the right field fence, a solo shot that proved to be the difference in the game. Birmingham put the tying run on base in the ninth inning, but Reyes and infielder Dawel Lugo combined for a fantastic game-ending relay to home plate that gunned down the runner as he tried to score on a single to deep right-center field. The win was the first for the Generals as their Friday night alter-ego, the Hub City Hippos.

SATURDAY, APRIL 8th VS. BIRMINGHAM

Return of the Home Run KingKevin Cron

In the third game of the year, Generals first baseman Kevin Cron* blasted three home runs out of The Ballpark at Jackson, joining Steven Proscia, Carlos Peguero, and Charlton Jimerson as the only Generals players to accomplish that feat in the past decade. Cron’s first bomb, off highly touted right-hander Michael Kopech, came on a 98-mph fastball and ended up 450 feet over the fence in left-center. His third jack of the game tied the score in the bottom of the ninth, pushing the Generals and Birmingham Barons into their first extra-innings game of the year. Cron, the 2016 Southern League leader in home runs, led the league in dingers through May.

SUNDAY, APRIL 9th VS. BIRMINGHAM

20-Run Fun

Stinging from an 8-7 extra-innings loss the night before, the Jackson offense unloaded on Birmingham in a 20-5 blowout on Sunday afternoon. Led by multiple homers from both Dawel Lugo and Stewart Ijames, Jackson did all of its scoring in the first seven innings, tallying 18 RBI and 22 hits, 12 of which went for extra bases. The Generals’ six home runs fell one bomb shy of the Southern League record. Jackson recorded their highest run total since August 7, 2009, when the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx took down Carolina, 20-9. The 22 hits from J.R. House’s squad is the highest hit total for a Generals team since May 10, 2006, a 25-hit effort in a 15-1 drubbing of Mississippi.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19th VS. MONTGOMERY

Dugan Downs The BiscuitsKR1A0464

Facing a 7-3 deficit with six outs to go, the Generals mounted an improbable comeback, scoring five runs in the last two innings for an 8-7 walk-off win. Generals outfielder Kelly Dugan started the four-run eighth inning with a sacrifice fly, and he finished the game with a two-out ninth-inning broken-bat double into the right field corner that scored catcher Michael Perez from first base.

SATURDAY, APRIL 22nd AT BILOXI

Gabe, The New Babe

Batting for the second time as a minor leaguer, Generals left-handed pitcher Gabe Speier used his first swing as a professional to crank an opposite-field solo home run in Biloxi. The April 22nd dinger was the first by a Jackson pitcher since August 9, 2006, when reliever Bobby Brownlie homered in the 11th inning of a 7-3 West Tenn Diamond Jaxx victory over Jacksonville. Speier out-did Brownlie, too: both men got the win in their respctive games, but Speier threw 3.1 scoreless innings of relief, while Brownlie only notched 3.0 innings.

MONDAY, APRIL 24th AT BILOXI

Westbrook’s Triple-DoubleJamie Westbrook 4

After starting in a 6-for-50 rut, Generals second baseman Jamie Westbrook erupted on April 24th with a slump-busting 4-for-5 night at Biloxi. Westbrook’s first two at-bats consisted of an RBI double to left and a two-run triple to center field, but he wasn’t finished. In the fifth inning, the Chandler, Ariz. native doubled to right, marking his first game with three or more hits on the season. In the sixth, Biloxi retired the first two batters before Rudy Flores* and Victor Reyes connected on consecutive doubles. Westbrook, batting next, doubled again to right, scoring Reyes. The double was Westbrook’s third of the night and the third in a row in that inning. Westbrook’s rebound from the slump was a week-long fast-break: he won Southern League Player of the Week honors on May 1st after a 13-for-27 week at the plate. He celebrated that afternoon by hitting his first homer of the season, taking Chattanooga’s Felix Jorge deep in a 12-pitch at-bat.

SATURDAY, MAY 13th VS. PENSACOLA

Keller Beats Mahle

Facing Pensacola ace right-hander Tyler Mahle, the Generals came up with an impressive 3-0 victory in front of a big Saturday night crowd. Mahle, less than one month removed from throwing a perfect game, allowed a solo home run to Rudy Flores* in seven innings of work. Jackson right-hander Brad Keller out-dueled him, holding the Blue Wahoos scoreless over six innings. Kevin Cron* and Dawel Lugo also added solo home runs in the eighth and ninth innings to put the victory on ice, handing Mahle his first defeat of the year.

FRIDAY, MAY 19th AT MONTGOMERY

Doubly GrandRudyFlores1

After an 11-6 victory the night before, the Generals offense ate up the Montgomery Biscuits in a 17-5 feast, garnering two grand slams in the process. Generals outfielder Kelly Dugan and designated hitter Rudy Flores* each hit home runs with the bases loaded, marking the first time a team had slammed twice in the same game since current Houston Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick hit two grand slams by himself in an 11-2 Jacksonville victory at Pensacola on May 30, 2013.

 

SATURDAY, MAY 27th AT JACKSONVILLE

20-K Comrades

Generals hurlers Taylor Clarke*, Joey Krehbiel*, and Gabriel Moya* combined to retire 20 Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp on strikes in a 4-2 nine-inning comeback victory. Clarke set a career high with 12 punchouts, while Krehbiel added five, a season-high among Generals relievers at that point. The 20-K effort fell two strikeouts shy of the Southern League record (22), which was most recently tied by Jackson in a victory over Chattanooga on April 21st, 2014. Moya had the chance to tie the record, but the final two outs of the ninth inning were recorded via groundout and flyout. Jacksonville led 2-0 until the eighth inning, but the Generals rallied with five hits in the final two frames to overtake the Jumbo Shrimp.

 

FRIDAY, JUNE 2nd VS. MISSISSIPPI

Walking TallColin Walsh 3

Generals second baseman Colin Walsh* reached base safely in a team-best 22nd straight game, making his streak that began on May 10th one of the three longest tears in the Southern League at that time. Walsh went 18-for-63 with five extra base hits and a wondrous 31 walks. Walsh’s walk total (55 through June 2) led all players in the affiliated minor leagues and Major League Baseball. Walsh won the Southern League’s first Player of the Week honor in 2017 by hitting .371 over the first nine games of the year, recording two home runs and seven doubles in that span.

 

FRIDAY, JUNE 3rd VS. MISSISSIPPI

The Force Is Strong With Fans

Wearing Star Wars-themed jerseys adorned with movie character Admiral Ackbar, the Generals played a riveting series finale against the Mississippi Braves in front of a season-high 6,224 fans. The Generals dropped a 4-3 contest, but the crowd was treated to a rousing post-game fireworks show and lots of promotional segments that paid homage to the famous sci-fi film franchise.

 

TUESDAY, JUNE 6th AT CHATTANOOGA

Nine Shutout Innings (Of Relief)Joey Krehbiel pitching 2

In the longest game of the year to date, the Generals bested the Lookouts 4-2 with the help of nine scoreless innings from their bullpen. Right-hander Joel Payamps allowed just two runs in his five-inning start, but a five-man relief corps of Miller Diaz, Joey Krehbiel*, Jared Miller, Gabriel Moya*, and Yuhei Nakaushiro held Chattanooga scoreless thereafter. A sacrifice fly from Dawel Lugo and an RBI single by Kelly Dugan helped the Generals pull ahead in the top of the 14th inning. Nakaushiro got the final three outs just before midnight in a four-hour, 17-minute contest.

Series Preview: Generals’ May slate begins in Mobile

 

Jamie Westbrook 2
Jamie Westbrook had a great week against Biloxi and Chattanooga, winning Southern League Player of the Week honors with 13 hits in 7 games.

 

May began on a Monday for the Generals, and it felt like one, too. Following a 56-degree first-pitch temperature under a cloudy Jackson sky, Double-A’s Diamondbacks dropped a 5-2 decision against the Chattanooga Lookouts, losing the series 3-2. The chilly finale marked only the second time in 24 games that the Generals had been defeated on back-to-back days, and they can still count the Southern League’s best winning percentage among their first-month accomplishments. However, the balancing act continues for first-year-at-Double-A manager J.R. House, whose roster has been hamstrung lately by injuries and, consequently, the continuing quest for consistency.

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Homestand primer: One-run-ready Generals host Chattanooga

KR1A9074
Gabriel Moya leads the Generals with 3 saves in 2017, playing a critical role in half of Jackson’s six one-run victories so far. (Photo credit: Cody Cunningham)

Show me a sports fan who doesn’t like a close game, and I’ll show you somebody who’s not being honest. (Spoiler alert: they’re the same person!)

Through 19 games so far in 2017, a single run has decided ten of the Jackson Generals’ contests, most of any team in the Southern League. Manager J.R. House squeezed four wins out of the team’s most recent series with Biloxi, with two of those wins coming 1-0 and 6-5 on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Generals won their second road series despite having two players, starting pitcher Brad Keller and catcher Michael Perez, sent to the seven-day disabled list.

On offense, the Generals’ run production continues to swing back and forth between a dripping faucet and a gushing fire-hose. Jason Camilli’s hitters mixed their three one-run games against the Shuckers with a pair of victories by six or more runs. Even the pitchers got in on the action at the plate, with a multi-hit game from Josh Taylor and a home run from Gabe Speier in the Generals’ first series batting their arms since 2006. The Generals (13-6) remain atop the Southern League in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, though the team has hit just .279 over their last ten games.

From the hill, Doug Drabek’s young charges largely dominated the Southern League’s weakest hitting team, shutting out Biloxi 11-0 and 1-0 on consecutive days. Gabriel Moya’s consecutive saves have paced the Generals’ bullpen this week, which has stranded more than half of their inherited runners this season. With Keller on the DL, Ivan Pineyro stepped in to throw 6.2 innings with only one run allowed on Wednesday, posting his best Double-A outing since he pitched for the Tennessee Smokies in 2015.

Chattanooga (9-11), with whom Jackson split 25 games last year 14-11, is in a bit stronger position than Biloxi. According to MLB.com, the Lookouts feature six of the Minnesota Twins’ top-10 prospects, led by top overall Minnesota prospect Nick Gordon. The shortstop is tied for the Southern League batting average lead (.338) with Generals infielder Colin Walsh, and the Chattanooga pitching staff boasts two prospects, left-hander Tyler Jay and right-hander Kohl Stewart, who were first-round draft picks. The Lookouts are on a three-game slide, having dropped four of five against Tennessee after rainouts forced them to play a pair of double-headers on Monday and Tuesday.

Here’s a look at the pitching battles:

Thu., 4/27 6:05 pm CT vs. Chattanooga LHP Alex Young

(1-0, 1.84 ERA)

vs. RHP Paul Clemens

(1-0, 2.35 ERA)

Fri., 4/28 6:05 pm CT vs. Chattanooga RHP Taylor Clarke

(1-1, 3.38 ERA)

vs. TBA (Chattanooga Lookouts)
Sat., 4/29 6:05 pm CT vs. Chattanooga LHP Josh Taylor

(2-1, 2.25 ERA)

vs. RHP Kohl Stewart

(0-4, 6.46 ERA)

Sun., 4/30 2:05 pm CT vs. Chattanooga RHP Brooks Hall

(1-0, 5.06 ERA )

vs. LHP Matt Tracy

(1-1, 1.53 ERA)

Mon., 5/1 11:05 am CT vs. Chattanooga TBA vs. RHP Fernando Romero

(1-3, 3.44 ERA)

Thursday’s 6:05 pm CT opener is a Thrifty Thursday, with $2 deals on general admission tickets, hot dogs, popcorn, 24-oz. soda, 16-oz. beer, ice cream and Fun Zone access! Fans can get reserved seats for only $6! Friday is another Leaders Credit Union Food Truck Friday, and the Generals will once again play as the Hub City Hippos.

Saturday, April 29 is the second Fireworks Show of 2017! It’s MuscFest night, and lucky fans will have the opportunity to win tickets to various concerts! In addition, the first 500 families through the gate will take home a 2016 Southern League Championship blanket! The series wraps up with an Education Day, May 1! That Monday, students get in free with their class and lunch packs will be available for just $6!

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!