Huntsville Plays for First-Half Title Tuesday

Milwaukee's Class AA team in Huntsville will tangle with West Tennessee in a one-game playoff tonight to decide the Southern League's first-half champion in the North Division.

Milwaukee's Class AA Huntsville club won't know its first-half fate until tonight as the Stars and West Tennessee will decide the North Division crown after finishing with 41-29 records through Sunday's action.

Don Money's bunch lost three of its final four games of a five-game trip to Jacksonville. However, the Stars will have left-hander Steve Hammond on the mound for Tuesday night's playoff showdown.

Should the Stars win, it will be their fourth consecutive half-season title.

Huntsville lost six of its 10 meetings against the Diamond Jaxx during the first half but get them at Joe Davis Stadium in what amounts to the first of a six-game series against West Tennessee.

Hammond sports a 7-3 record and 3.25 earned-run average, allowing only 67 hits while striking out 76 in 83 innings.

He fills only one spot in the team's all-lefty starting rotation that also features David Welch, 8-1 and 3.21; Brae Wright, 5-6 and 3.57; and Derek Miller, 5-2 and 4.62.

Right-handers Patrick Ryan and Juan Sandoval top the bullpen with five saves apiece.

The Stars also boast one of the best offensive arsenals in the Southern League and all of minor league baseball with five players hitting over .300 and eight above .280.

Third baseman Mat Gamel leads the SL with a .377 average while catcher Angel Salome is second at .353, center fielder Michael Brantley is fourth at .325 and shortstop Alcides Escobar sits tied for fifth at .322.

Gamel leads the circuit in hits (106), doubles (23) and total bases (181). Brantley and Escobar are second and third in stolen bases with 19 and 18, respectively. And right fielder Matt LaPorta, Milwaukee's No. 1 draft pick in 2007, tops the SL in homers with 19 and is second in RBIs with 58 while batting .295.

Center fielder Freddy Parejo is hitting .303 in 145 at-bats, while first baseman Chris Errecart is batting .285 and left fielder Cole Gillespie .281.


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