Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Biscuits' Gardner wins manager of the year

Biscuits manager Billy Gardner, in his sixth season with the club, won the Southern League manager of the year award today.

Gardner has a 426-406 record with Montgomery and matched an award his father won 40 years ago. Billy Gardner Sr. was the league's manager of the year in 1973 for the Jacksonville Suns.

With Montgomery's 74-63 record this year, Gardner Jr. is 1,191-1,180 in 18 years as a minor league manager. His 426 wins are the most in Montgomery's professional history.

The Biscuits opened the season with two legitimate prospects: shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and pitcher Alex Colome. Each missed a considerable amount of the season with injuries.

Colome was promoted to Triple-A Durham in late July. Lee, after a season-ending Aug. 11 oblique injury, was hitting just .261.

Montgomery boasted a surprising batting champion with sixth-year pro Omar Luna hitting a career-high .315.

The Biscuits also recovered from early struggles. They were 10-15 after being swept at home in late April by the Birmingham Barons.

Montgomery recovered to win six straight series and 10 of its next 11.

The Biscuits lost a five-game series just three times over the season's final four months. Both were to the Jacksonville Suns, including one with just a week left in the regular season.

Jacksonville won the first four games of a series at Montgomery to take a one-game division lead. The Biscuits won the final game of that series to start a four-game winning streak that clinched a playoff berth.

The Biscuits had the second-best record in the Southern League behind the Jackson Generals' 79-61. The Generals began the year with what was considered the best starting rotation in the minors.

Gardner marks the first time the Biscuits have had a manager of the year. The Rebels had just one Southern League honoree: Eddie Brinkman (1977).

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