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Link Report Season Ends -- Stars Fall to Biscuits


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I know Mass Haas has been having some technical difficulties, and since there is only one minor league affiliate still in action, I figured all of the Huntsville Stars' playoff games could be covered in one thread.


Audio link for all of the games:



Here's the schedule for the Southern League Championship series between the Huntsville Stars and the Montgomery Biscuits (all times CST):


Game 1: 09/12/06 06:05PM MON @ HUN

Game 2: 09/13/06 06:05PM MON @ HUN

Game 3: 09/14/06 07:05PM HUN @ MON

Game 4: 09/15/06 07:05PM HUN @ MON (If Necessary)

Game 5: 09/16/06 07:05PM HUN @ MON (If Necessary)


Game One, Tuesday 9/12:


Huntsville: RHP Tim Dillard at home vs. Montgomery (Devil Rays) RHP Jeff Niemann, 5:50 PM pre-game, 6:05 gametime




Game Two, Wednesday 9/13:


Huntsville: RHP Corey Thurman at home vs. Montgomery (Devil Rays) RHP Andrew Sonnanstine, 5:50 PM pre-game, 6:05 gametime




Game Three, Thursday 9/14:


Huntsville: RHP Yovani Gallardo on the road vs. Montgomery (Devil Rays) RHP Mitch Talbot, 6:50 PM pre-game, 7:05 gametime




Game Four, Friday 9/15:


Huntsville: LHP Manny Parra on the road vs. Montgomery (Devil Rays) LHP Jason Cromer, 6:50 PM pre-game, 7:05 gametime



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Here is the series' preview information from both the Stars' site and from MiLB.com that I provided on the previous link report:


Here is the info from the Stars' site:




Stars and Biscuits in Championship Series


The Huntsville Stars have reached the championship of the Southern League and will take on the South division champion Montgomery Biscuits starting Tuesday, September 12th at Joe Davis Stadium at 6:05pm. The Stars swept the Chattanooga Lookouts by a combined score of 21-5, while Montgomery swept the Jacksonville Suns in the South division series.


The Stars are making their 11th playoff appearance and won the Southern League Championship in 1985, 1994, and were co-champs in 2001, while the Biscuits are making their first ever appearance in the championship series. The Stars also reached the championship round three other times, with the most recent coming in 2003 when the Stars were defeated by the Carolina Mudcats in the final game of the series.


The Stars and Biscuits played nine times this season, with the Stars winning four of those games. These two teams do have a history, with the Stars playing the Biscuits in their first ever game at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, a 5-4 Stars victory.


During the second game of the series, Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins will be at Joe Davis Stadium for the BC Headache Powder Pitch For A Million Contest.


Tickets for both games are on sale now by calling the Stars at 882-2562, or you can order online at www.huntsvillestars.com.




Here's MiLB's preview of the series:




Southern League Championship Series Preview

Montgomery Biscuits vs. Huntsville Stars

By Lisa Winston / MLB.com


Montgomery Biscuits vs. Huntsville Stars



Game 1: Tue., Sept. 12 -- Montgomery at Huntsville, 7:05 p.m. ET (Jeff Niemann vs. Tim Dillard)


Game 2: Wed., Sept. 13 -- Montgomery at Huntsville, 7:05 p.m. ET


Game 3: Thu., Sept. 14 -- Huntsville at Montgomery, 8:05 p.m. ET


Game 4: Fri., Sept. 15 -- Huntsville at Montgomery, 8:05 p.m. ET (if necessary)


Game 5: Sat., Sept. 16 -- Huntsville at Montgomery 8:05 p.m. ET (if necessary)


Season series: Montgomery, 5-4.


Due to the odd and unbalanced schedule in the 10-team Southern League, you can pretty much throw out the results since all nine of the teams' head-to-head games (there was a rainout that was never made up) were played by May 11. Many of the top stars on both teams were not involved in any of those contests, among them Montgomery's Game 1 starter Jeff Niemann, pitcher Mitch Talbot who was brilliant in Game 3, infielders Reid Brignac and Evan Longoria, and red-hot hitters Johnny Raburn and Justin Ruggiano, as well as Huntsville's three young starters Yovani Gallardo, Steve Hammond and Manny Parra, slugging third baseman Ryan Braun, and first baseman Brad Nelson, who was the Stars' top hitter in the semifinals.





The Biscuits batted .247 against the Stars in their nine games and posted a 2.77 ERA. OF Jeremy Owens had the most success of any hitter on either team in head-to-head competition, batting .321. 2B Elliot Johnson hit .281 with a pair of homers. DH Michael Coleman hit .273. The only two members of the Montgomery rotation to face Huntsville were ace Andrew Sonnanstine (0-2, 3.95 in two starters) and starter/reliever Tony Peguero (2.70 in two starts).



Given the fact that Huntsville was 24-45 in the first half, it's not surprising that the Stars hit just .202 against Montgomery, though they could boast a 2.34 ERA. RHP Tim Dillard, who did not pitch in the semifinals but is slated to start the opener of the finals, had a 2.38 ERA in two starts, while veteran Corey Thurman had an 0-2 record but a 3.00 ERA in two starts. Among the hitters who are still there, 2B Callix Crabbe batted .200, OF Steve Moss hit .154, C Lou Palmisano batted .063 and OF Ron Acuna batted .188. Only SS Ozzie Chavez had any success with a .290 average.


Who's Hot, Who's Not?



Ruggiano, who had missed the last several days of the regular season with strep throat, returned to face his former team, Jacksonville, and hit a semifinal series-best .417 with three RBIs in three games. Sonnanstine tossed seven shutout innings in his semifinal outing, walking one and striking out nine. Longoria delivered a two-run walk-off homer in the clincher and hit .308 in the semifinals. Talbot, acquired from Houston in the midseason trade for Aubrey Huff, fanned 14 without walking a batter in the clincher, sparkling with a complete game five-hit shutout. Johnson hit .308 in the semifinals while Owens and Raburn both hit .400. Brignac went 0-for-11 in the semifinal series, while Coleman hit just .125 though he did add a homer.



The Stars had brilliant starting pitching in their three-game sweep of Chattanooga. Thurman got things started in the opener with seven innings of two-hit shutout ball. Gallardo went six innings in his start, striking out 10 and giving up one run on four hits in his eighth double-digit strikeout game of the summer. In the clincher, Parra allowed two runs over five innings, fanning eight. Acuna and Nelson each hit .333 in the semifinals, while SS Brendan Katin batted .300 and Crabbe and Palmisano hit .273 apiece. Braun batted just .231 in the three-game set, while Moss hit just .214.


On the mound



Niemann, the announced starter for Game 1, was the Devil Rays' first pick in 2004 out of Rice. Joining the club in late May as he came off of injury rehab, he was 5-5 with a 2.68 ERA in 77 1/3 innings. The Biscuits have not announced the rest of the rotation, but if it follows suit with the semifinal plan, you would see Sonnanstine in Game 2, Talbot in Game 3, LHP Jason Cromer in Game 4 and Peguero in Game 5. Sonnanstine, a Southern League All-Star, was 15-8 with a 2.67 ERA during the regular season. Talbot posted a 1.90 ERA in his time with the Biscuits post-trade, leading all Southern League pitchers with 47 strikeouts in August. Cromer tossed five shutout innings in his last regular-season start to lower his ERA to 2.58. Peguero posted a 2.97 ERA on the season, seeing time in both relief and the rotation.



Gallardo is one of the leading contenders for Minor League Pitcher of the Year with a 1.86 ERA and a Minor League-best 188 strikeouts in 155 innings between Advanced-A Brevard County and Huntsville. However due to his innings total, he may not pitch again this series. The pre-playoff word had been that he would pitch one more game in the playoffs, so his masterful six innings in Game 2 may have been Gallardo's last game. Similarly, Hammond (2.93) was in the same situation, but due to the three-game sweep he did not pitch in the semifinals so would still be available to the Stars when called upon. Thurman was seventh in the league with a 2.96 ERA, as he returned from shoulder surgery which had wiped out virtually all of 2005. Dillard was fourth in the league with 10 wins and had a 3.15 ERA. Parra posted a 2.96 ERA at Brevard before joining the Stars in August and a 2.87 ERA in six starts after that.


At the plate



Brignac was the California League MVP before joining Montgomery, hitting .326 with 21 homers and 83 RBIs there. Combined between the two stops he's ranked among the Minor League leaders in hits (sixth), runs (ninth) and total bases (sixth). Longoria was the club's top pick this past June out of Long Beach State, and he hit six home runs and had 19 RBIs after joining the Biscuits in August. Ruggiano ranked among the Southern League leaders in doubles, on-base average and slugging as well as runs scored between Jacksonville and Montgomery. Raburn, a utility infielder who has been a sparkplug everywhere, hit .290 with 20 steals. Veteran Coleman led the team with 17 home runs. Johnson has power for the middle infield and hit .281 with 15 homers, 50 RBIs and 20 steals.



Crabbe is a force at the top of the lineup with 32 steals, fourth in the Southern League. He hit .361 with 17 of his steals in August alone. Braun, the Brewers' first pick in 2005, joined the team after the All-Star break and hit .309 with 15 home runs and 40 RBIs. Nelson was hot down the stretch with a .333 average, four home runs and 16 RBIs in August.


Points of Interest


Both teams in the all-Alabama championship series were second-half division champions who won their first two semifinal games on the road and came home to complete the three-game sweeps. As a result, even with bumping up the starting date for the best-of-5 finals from Wednesday, Sept. 13, to Tuesday, Sept. 12, both teams will be able to adjust their pitching rotations to their best advantage. ... Huntsville has got three Southern League titles under its belt, most recently in 2001 when the Stars were named co-champions with Jacksonville, as the series was canceled due to 9/11. This is their 11th postseason appearance. ... The Stars got their nickname because of nearby NASA operations.


Series Could Turn On


These two teams are evenly matched and both came into the postseason riding hot streaks. With time to set their rotations to maximum advantage, but with little relevant head-to-head results to go on, this becomes an even harder one to call because of the wild-card status of two of Huntsville's young pitchers, Steven Hammond and Yovani Gallardo. Montgomery, however, is in good shape with five strong starters ready to roll in whatever order the Biscuits see fit to use them, and that's why we're going with this pick.


Our prediction: Montgomery.

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May days seem long ago for Stars, Biscuits

Southern League's hottest teams set to meet title series

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Times Sports Staff markcolumn@aol.com


It's been four months and a day since the Huntsville Stars and Montgomery Biscuits last met, on a strange afternoon with a 21/2-hour rain delay under sunny skies. Tonight brings a reunion - and a meeting of two of the hottest teams in all of baseball.


The Southern League championship series - the I-65 Series - opens at 6:05 when the Stars host the Biscuits in the first of the best-of-five series. The Stars have won 15 of their last 16 and are 35-8 since July 21. The Biscuits have won 16 of 19.


Both teams won the second half in their respective divisions, then swept through the first round of the playoffs.


Montgomery knocked off Jacksonville on Saturday, then celebrated with a raucous champagne bash. The Stars were more subdued after eliminating Chattanooga, opting for pasta over partying.


Andy Sonnanstine, who'll start game two of the series for the Biscuits, sat out the celebration, telling The Montgomery Advertiser, "I wasn't all that worried about not being in the champagne. We're going to have another one in a few days."


The Biscuits own a 5-4 edge over Huntsville this year. Said second baseman Callix Crabbe, "This isn't going to be an easy series."


Tim Dillard, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 3, will start tonight for Huntsville against Montgomery's Jeff Niemann.


"I'm anxious," Dillard said. "Not only just to get back on the mound, but get out there in a playoff game. In pro ball, I've never pitched in a playoff game. To pitch the first game of the championship series, you've gotta love that."


Dillard's father Steve, a former major leaguer and a coach with the Cubs' Single-A team, will be here tonight to see his son pitch for the first time this year. "We haven't even seen each other in seven months," Tim said.


It seems that long since the Stars and Biscuits have seen each other.


"They're kind of like us. They've got a different team," Dillard said.


"They've got a lot of new faces, and so do we," said manager Don Money.


The Stars' pitching staff was uncannily prepared to face Chattanooga in the previous series, and pitching coach Rich Sauveur has been doing his homework against the Biscuits. He has data stored in his Palm Pilot from the previous meetings. On Monday morning, he called Milwaukee scouts who work the California League, from where several new Montgomery players were promoted, for background.


"Sometimes the little things can help," he said.


Much like Huntsville, Montgomery didn't have a major overhaul, but certainly enhanced its lineup since May.


The Biscuits, meanwhile, have added third baseman Evan (No-Relation-To-Eva) Longoria, shortstop Reid Brignac and outfielder Justin Ruggiano in the last month to solidify their offense, as the Stars have done with first baseman Brad Nelson, third baseman Ryan Braun and outfielder Brendan Katin.


Aside from being two of the top prospects in the game, there is another tie between Braun and Longoria: Both followed Adam Heether. Braun took his job in Huntsville when his .213 average led to his demotion to Single-A. And Longoria played at Long Beach State, separated by a year from Heether.


When the Biscuits were last here, on May 11, the game was scheduled for 10 a.m. and thousands of school kids were at Joe W. Davis Stadium.


However, the grounds crew was unprepared for an early morning cloudburst. When Heether slipped chasing a foul ball, the game was halted in the first. After the delay, Montgomery catcher Ryan Christianson hit a grand slam. The second game was then postponed because the supply of drying chemicals had been exhausted.

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Baseball America's Playoff Dish:






Montgomery faces Huntsville in a matchup of solid pitching rotations. The league title series doesn't start until Wednesday. The Biscuits owned a 5-4 advantage in the regular season series, even though Huntsville beat staff ace Andy Sonnanstine twice.




Ignore the comment about the league title series not beginning until tomorrow (Wednesday), unless Huntsville is getting the same rain we are here in Milwaukee.


If you follow the BA link from above and check out some of the other league playoff previews, you'll notice that the Royals' AA Texas League affiliate (Wichita) is facing the Astros AA affiliate (Tulsa). That really doesn't mean anything to us, but I just bring it up looking at Wichita's pitching staff: Righties Billy Buckner, Zack Greinke and Luke Hochevar and lefty Tyler Lumsden. Wow, that is one heck of a starting rotation, at least as far as prospect names are concerned, and one you could see in Kansas City in the not-so-distant future.

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Huntsville Site Game Review

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Stars Claim Sloppy Game One of Title Series


Tim Dillard worked six solid innings and Huntsville took advantage of seven walks and five errors to come from behind to down Montgomery 6-4 Tuesday night in game one of the Southern League Championship series at Joe Davis Stadium.


Elliot Johnson?s single in the third inning drove in Jason Pridie with the game?s first run and a solo home run by Reid Brignac, his first hit in 14 post-season at-bats, gave the Biscuits a 2-0 lead in the fifth. It was the first home run allowed at home by Dillard since a Joey Votto clout back on August 1. Dillard allowed two runs on six hits and three walks in his first playoff start. He struck out six and stranded six base runners.


Biscuits? starter Jeff Niemann had held the Stars hitless and scoreless through five innings before Callix Crabbe and Ryan Braun singled to open the home sixth. Brad Nelson walked to load the bases, Ron Acuna struck out on three pitches and Brendan Katin walked to force in Crabbe with the home team?s first run. Jeff Eure then fanned on three pitches before Lou Palmisano walked to push Braun across with the tying run and knock Niemann out of the game.


Steve Moss led off the seventh against Tony Peguero with an infield hit, moved to second base on a Crabbe sacrifice bunt, to third on a Braun fly ball and scored on a throwing error by second baseman Elliot Johnson to give the Stars a 3-2 lead. First baseman Johnny Raburn initially broke toward the ball, stopped and realized he couldn?t get to the bag in time, as Peguero came off the mound to cover but Johnson?s throw was behind him and hit off his glove.


Travis Phelps tossed a scoreless seventh inning for Huntsville but gave up a leadoff single to Justin Ruggiano in the eighth that was followed by an Evan Longoria double. Michael Coleman singled into centerfield to drive in both runners to put the Biscuits back on top at 4-3. He stole second base, moved to third on a ground out but was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a Ryan Chrisitanson ground out.


Jean Machi took over for Montgomery on the hill in the eighth and gave up a leadoff single to Jeff Eure and walked Palmisano and Chavez to load the bases. Moss hit a ground ball to Longoria at third base that he couldn?t field cleanly allowing Eure to score the tying run. Machi was taken out and replaced by Brian Henderson, who got Crabbe to hit a ground ball to shortstop Reid Brignac, who made an errant throw to the plate that allowed a sliding Palmisano to score the go-ahead run. Braun then chased home Chavez with a sacrifice fly to complete the scoring. Joe Valentine retired the side in order to close out the game and convert his 12th straight save opportunity.


The Southern League Championship Series continues Wednesday night at 6:05 pm with right-hander Corey Thurman taking the hill for Huntsville against Biscuits? right-hander Andrew Sonnanstine. Coverage of the game begins at 5:50 p.m. central time and can be heard locally on ESPN Radio 1450 AM and through the internet at www.huntsvillestars.com.

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you know, I've always had a man-crush on Tim Dillard based on the reports and stats, but I have to wonder if his sinker/slider combo has him on the radar for a setup role in the pen next year. Having our only double play pitcher in the pen being the inconsistent and high-paid Kolb might mean that the role is open for Dillard next spring training.
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you know, I've always had a man-crush on Tim Dillard based on the reports and stats, but I have to wonder if his sinker/slider combo has him on the radar for a setup role in the pen next year. Having our only double play pitcher in the pen being the inconsistent and high-paid Kolb might mean that the role is open for Dillard next spring training.


Despite clancy's efforts to convince anyone that will listen to him that Dillard is a potential future ace, Reid Nichols has made it very clear on numerous occasions that the Brewers view Dillard as a future setup man given his hard sinker. Nichols has alluded to the fact that Dillard doesn't have an ideal repertoire for a starter at the big league level, as you don't hear much about his breaking ball nor his changeup. That doesn't mean he can't start, but if the organization views him that way I'm assuming it is for very good reason.


However, I never thought of him as an option in any capacity at the big-league level next spring, which is a very intriguing thought. Can you imagine the youth (not to mention the radar gun readings) if Capellan, Turnbow, Sarfate and Dillard were setting up Cordero next season? Throw in Shouse (and/or maybe Eveland) & Wise and you have a relatively cheap and young bullpen.

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Can you imagine the youth (not to mention the radar gun readings) if Capellan, Turnbow, Sarfate and Dillard were setting up Cordero next season?


What range does Dillard normally throw his fastball?

"Dustin Pedroia doesn't have the strength or bat speed to hit major-league pitching consistently, and he has no power......He probably has a future as a backup infielder if he can stop rolling over to third base and shortstop." Keith Law, 2006
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Stars will take it

Huntsville happy to get gifts from bumbling Biscuits


Huntsville Times Sports Staff, markcolumn@aol.com


Hard-earned as this season has gone for the Huntsville Stars, a simple little gift can be much appreciated.


That's what the Montgomery Biscuits provided Tuesday, with a package resembling what a old husband's Christmas-present-wrapping looks like: Uneven, ragged and bulky, like he was trying to wrap a live raccoon.


The Stars' gift was a 6-4 victory over Montgomery Tuesday night in the first game of the Southern League championship series. The Biscuits went all crumbly, committing five errors - three of which led directly to runs - and allowing two bases-loaded walks.


"Errors are part of the game, and we just tried to take advantage of them," said manager Don Money.


The Stars stretched their hot streak to 16 wins in 17 games in front of an announced crowd of a paltry 1,049, impacted somewhat by the day-long showers.


"It's huge," catcher Lou Palmisano said of the win. "The pressure's on them now. We just need to come out relaxed and do what we do."


Montgomery had won 16 of 19 coming in. Said manager Charlie Montoyo, "We've been playing great baseball, but that was a really bad game."


Game 2 in the best-of-five series is tonight at 6:05, with Montgomery starting 15-game winner Andy Sonnanstine against Corey Thurman. There will also be a Hall of Fame pitcher on hand. Ferguson Jenkins is making an appearance as part of a BC Powder promotion.


A challenge for Huntsville tonight: Finding an appropriate hiding place for Thurman when the Stars are at-bat. An early drizzle sent him to the press box with the chart he was keeping Tuesday.


After five hitless innings, he pronounced, "I've got to move around.


"When I don't sit still, we score runs."


Presto! The Stars scored almost immediately. And, through various other Huntsville uprisings, Thurman was either in a hallway or the restroom.


The Stars defense has been unheralded, but they finished second and have made only two errors in four postseason games.


Said Money, "It's the old saying, pitching and defense."


It was clearly the determining factor last night.


Montgomery took a 2-0 lead when Jason Pridie tripled and scored on an Elliott Johnson single in the third and Reid Brignac homered in the fifth off starter Tim Dillard (six innings, six hits, six strikeouts.)


"I'd like to have put us in a better position to win," Dillard said, "but I wasn't worried. We've got a group of guys who can make it happen."


Montgomery's 6-foot-9, 281-pound starter Jeff Niemann lost his no-hitter to a Callix Crabbe leadoff single in the sixth, then eventually yielded a pair of bases-loaded walks, to Brendan Katin and Palmisano - the first of a bounty of Biscuit gifts.


A throwing error by Johnson in the seventh scored Steve Moss for a 3-2 Huntsville lead, but Justin Ruggiano singled and Evan Longoria doubled off Travis Phelps in the eighth, scoring on a Michael Coleman single for a 4-3 edge.


But Huntsville had one more rally - and Montgomery more gifts. With the bases loaded and infield drawn in, Longoria booted a Moss chopper for the tying run to score and Brignac threw wildly to home on a Crabbe bouncer.


A Ryan Braun sac fly made it 6-4.


Enter ace closer Joe Valentine. The Stars could breathe a sigh of relief. And Thurman could come out of the restroom.

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However, I never thought of him as an option in any capacity at the big-league level next spring, which is a very intriguing thought


exactly why I posted it Colby. If we planned on leaving him as a starter, then there's no way he'd be an option next spring. But it's much more common for a talented reliever to jump from AA, especially since the AAA rotation is pretty full already. But as you stated, Nichols constantly talks of his potential in the pen. It always makes me think of Bob Wickman, only with 10 full fingers.

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It always makes me think of Bob Wickman, only with 10 full fingers.


I hope Dillard looks more like a baseball player than wickman does these days...the dude breaks a serious sweat walking in from the pen..


actually, i miss wicky...he was worth every bit of sexson...and he's still rolling along, even though he's gotta be 5 years older than richie..

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He's pushing 40, he graduated when I was in in 7th grade...

"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."

- Plato

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something."

- Plato

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Final (Game Two): Montgomery (D-Rays) 11, Huntsville 4


Huntsville Site Game Review

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Biscuits Pound Out Big Win in Game Two


Evan Longoria, Michael Coleman and Jason Pridie each hit home runs to back the solid pitching of Andrew Sonnanstine in Montgomery?s 11-4 win over Huntsville Wednesday night at Joe Davis Stadium that evened the Southern League Championship series at a game apiece. Games three and four, and five, if necessary, will be played at Riverwalk Stadium.


Stars? starter Corey Thurman fanned seven of the first eight hitters he faced and blanked the Biscuits on one hit through four frames. Longoria belted his first pitch in the fifth for a home run to left-center field to get the scoring started. Ryan Christianson knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly, Elliot Johnson doubled in a run and Reid Brignac followed with a two-run double to make it 5-0 in favor of the visitors and chase Thurman from the game. Johnny Rayburn greeted Matt Yeatman with a double to left to score Brignac to make it 6-0 Montgomery.


Sonnanstine shut the Stars out on one hit through four innings but gave up a leadoff home run to Jeff Eure that got the home side on the board. Patrick Breen committed a fielding error on a Steve Moss double that allowed Ozzie Chavez to score from third base and move Moss to third, where he scored from on a Callix Crabbe ground ball to cut the lead to 6-3. Ryan Braun then launched a home run to trim the margin to 6-4.


Yeatman loaded the bases with one out in the sixth and retired Johnson on a shallow fly ball to keep the game 6-4. Southpaw Joe Thatcher was brought on to face the lefty-swinging Brignac, who struck out to end the inning. The Stars got one-out singles from Eure and Lou Palmisano in the bottom of the sixth but the threat died when Chavez grounded into an inning-ending double play.


Gerrit Simpson then gave up a two-out long ball to Coleman in the seventh inning and a two-run shot in the eighth to Pridie, who also singled twice, walked and scored two runs. Sonnanstine allowed four runs on nine hits, while striking out six and walking two to win for a second time in two playoff starts and for the 17th time this season. Tony Peguero tossed two scoreless innings to close out the win.


The series continues Thursday night at 7:05 pm with right-hander Yovani Gallardo taking the hill for Huntsville against Biscuits? right-hander Mitch Talbot. Coverage of the game begins at 6:50 p.m. central time and can be heard locally on ESPN Radio 1450 AM and through the internet at www.huntsvillestars.com.


Huntsville Box Score and Game Log



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Biscuits hit back, tie series

Montgomery evens score in Southern League title series with 11-4 victory


Huntsville Times Sports Staff, markcolumn@aol.com


Unfamiliar territory, this losing business. For the Stars to stumble into a loss is such a rarity these days, it's like the Snow Panic that is created once or twice a winter. You wonder if you're supposed to rush to the grocery for milk and bread.


And especially a bowling-shoe-ugly loss like this one, Wednesday's 11-4 defeat at the hands of the Montgomery Biscuits in game two of the Southern League championship series.


It was the Stars' first defeat since Sept. 2, a meaningless second game of a doubleheader after the second-half pennant had been clinched. Before that, they hadn't lost since Aug. 21, giving them a streak of 16 wins in 17 games.


They hadn't lost by as many as seven runs since June 21.


"We were due," shrugged manager Don Money.


Now, the big question: Did this swing momentum to the Biscuits as the duel heads to Montgomery tonight for game three (7:05 CDT, ESPN-AM 1450) in the best-of-five series - or if it's merely one win.


"To me, it's no advantage," Montgomery manager Charlie Montoya said. "We won today. Now we'll move on."


The same attitude prevailed in the Huntsville clubhouse.


"Now it's a best of three series," said Jeff Eure.


Momentum to Montgomery?


"I don't think so. I think we'll come out ready to play (tonight)," said Eure.


"We're OK. We're fine," said coach Sandy Guerrero. "We've just got to forget about this and go get 'em (tonight)."


Momentum to Montgomery? "We've got (Yovani) Gallardo. That's enough for me," said pitching coach Rich Sauveur, referring to the young righty whose 186 strikeouts were the most in the minors this season.


He'll be facing Mitch Talbot, who struck out 14 Jacksonville batters last Friday when Montgomery clinched the SL South division title.


The 11-4 score will belie that Wednesday night's game was a pitcher's duel for quite some time.


Corey Thurman was no less than sensational through three innings, striking out seven of the first eight batters he faced.


Andy Sonnanstine, the 15-game winner who had promised after the Biscuits' division-winning champagne celebration, "we're going to have another one in a few days," was backing up his talk with four innings of one-hit ball.


But things collapsed in the fifth. Evan Longoria led off with a homer, then Thurman hit Michael Coleman. Patrick Breen singled and Ryan Christianson cranked a sac fly for a 2-0 lead.


Jason Pridie's single and doubles by Elliot Johnson and Reid Brignac chased Thurman, then ex-Star Johnny Raburn doubled home the sixth run.


Huntsville churned back with four runs off Sonnanstine as Eure opened with a homer, then Ozzie Chavez singled and scored on a Steve Moss double and error by Breen.


Ryan Braun launched a two-run homer before Sonnanstine got out of more trouble.


Michael Coleman bashed a two-run homer off reliever Gerrit Simpson in the seventh that, said Money, "took the steam out of the sails."


Jason Pridie added a two-run homer in the eighth and Christianson an RBI double in the ninth.


"That's a good hitting team," said Sauveur. "That's a very good hitting team. They hit the ball hard.


"But you know what? We're still in the same situation we were in (after Tuesday). We have to win two games. We were going into (Wednesday) having to win two games. Now we have to win two down there."


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Hall of Famer's pregame visit takes Money back in time


Huntsville Times Sports Staff, markcolumn@aol.com


A loud greeting. Glowing smiles. A hearty embrace. Good-natured pats on shiny scalps turned bare.


And 37 years melted away right there in front of your eyes.


You want coincidences?


On Monday, Stars manager Don Money was talking about "baseball memory," about how old players can remember scenarios and pitches and big hits and important games.


"But (wife) Sharon fusses at me that I can't remember anything else," he said.


On Tuesday, an hour before the Stars' first pitch against the Montgomery Biscuits, a large man in an Hawaiian print shirt walked into Money's office.


Ferguson Jenkins, the Hall of Fame pitcher, was in Huntsville, part of a BC Powder promotion.


You want coincidences?


On April 8, 1969, Don Money hit his first two major league home runs.


In Chicago.


Against Ferguson Jenkins.


"I remember," Jenkins roared, settling into the chair across from Money's desk.


"I don't know what the first one was. The second was probably a back-up slider," Jenkins said.


"You're a rookie, it's about the fartherest thing on your mind, to hit a home run like that," Money said.


You want coincidences?


Don Money faced Ferguson Jenkins more than any other pitcher, 126 at-bats. He hit six homers off Jenkins, more than any other victim.


Jenkins, in his 18 years in the show, faced Money more than any other batter.


"Solo homer in the seventh that made it 5-2. Then I came up in the ninth and hit a three-run shot and made it 5-5," Money recalled. "Then I got a double off Phil Regan in the 11th to make it 6-5. But Willie Smith hit a two-run homer in the 11th to beat us."


After that first meeting, "I didn't fare too well," said Money. "He started throwing me sliders."


Strange thing how baseball players' recollections go.


"Stuck back up there in the old coconut somewhere," Money said.


To more recent memories, there wasn't much worth keeping up in the old coconut for the Stars.


As if in tribute to Jenkins, there were four innings of magnificent pitching. Huntsville's Corey Thurman struck out seven of the first eight he faced and didn't allow a hit until the fourth. Andy Sonnanstine allowed only one hit through four for the Biscuits.


Then, the fartherest thing from your mind: Two pitching-rich teams turned it into Home Run Derby.


Evan Longoria to ignite a six-run Biscuits sixth. Jeff Eure and Ryan Braun in the Huntsville sixth. A Michael Coleman blast in the Montgomery seventh that was up long enough to track on radar. A Jason Pridie two-run shot in the eighth.


So much offense, so soon.


You figure Jenkins, the great pitcher here on behalf of a headache ailment, might have kindly shared some of the sponsor's product with his brethren.


If it can't erase the bad memories from their coconuts, it could at least dull the pain up there.

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