By: Kyle Crooks / Jacksonville Suns
The Jacksonville Suns (28-41, 57-81) will close out their season against the Mississippi Braves (36-32, 69-67) this afternoon with a first pitch set for 1:05 p.m. ET from Bragan Field.
After 31 seasons under ownership of the Bragan Family, the Suns were sold to Ken Babby, current owner of the Eastern League’s Akron RubberDucks (AA) and former Washington Post executive. Suns owner Peter “Pedro” Bragan, Jr., made it official in a press conference this offseason announcing the sale of the team. “It’s the right time and I also think it’s the right new owner for Jacksonville,” said Bragan Jr. The Suns have been running a season-long promotion entitled “Pedro’s Last Dance” which will celebrate the decades of Bragan Family ownership of the Suns. The promotion has included special events and several giveaways. Babby’s transaction of the organization will be made official in September of 2015. Babby, in his second season as owner of the RubberDucks, has seen Akron’s attendance increase by 27.7 percent. Last season, the attendance figure rose to 350,704 which was good for a 15.7 percent spike from 2013. He has also enjoyed on-field success, as the club jumped from ninth to fourth in the Eastern League standings. Peter Bragan, Sr., who served as the team’s Chairman of the Board until his death in 2012, first purchased the Suns into the family in 1984.
The Suns effectively played the role of spoiler last night bouncing the Mississippi Braves from the 2015 Southern League Playoffs. With the Braves loss, and the Pensacola Blue Wahoos 15-2 victory a night ago, that clinched Pensacola’s first playoff birth in franchise history. The Suns earned their fourth series victory of the second half, and their ninth overall in 2015.
This afternoon marks the end of the 2015 season for the Jacksonville Suns. The club saw a first half in which they would finish 29-40, which was good for fourth-place in the South Division. The Suns had a slew of major league rehabs; with the likes of Jose Fernandez, Jarred Cosart, Michael Morse, Jeff Mathis, and Bryan Morris donning a Suns uniform. Jacksonville saw members of the 2015 roster Brian Ellington, Kyle Barraclough, Scott McGough, Raudel Lazo, and Kendry Flores all make their way to the Miami Marlins.
Tonight’s pitching matchup will feature Jacksonville right-hander Austin Brice to be opposed by Mississippi righty Greg Ross. Brice will take the ball tonight 6-9 attached with an ERA of 4.67 in 25 starts with the Suns this year. His last trip to the hill came on 9/1 against Tennessee, in which he would earn the victory after five scoreless frames on the mound relinquishing three hits while walking five and striking out six in a 97-pitch performance. Brice finished the month of August for the Suns 2-2 while sporting a 3.26 ERA over 30 and a third innings and five starts. The 23-year old against Mississippi this year, has made a pair of starts posting a record of 0-1 and an ERA of 15.00. On 7/16 against the Braves, Brice would be spotted with a 10-run lead, but could only work two innings that night offering up eight runs (five earned) on seven hits in a no decision. The native of North Carolina is a former ninth-round draft pick of the Marlins in the 2010 MLB-First Year Player Draft out of Northwood High School in Pittsboro, N.C.
Ross will step to the mound 7-9 alongside a 3.99 earned-run mark in 25 games and 23 starts with the Braves. His last start came on 9/1 against Biloxi, in which he would generate six innings allowing one run (earned) on seven hits while walking one and striking out seven. Ross has made a pair of starts against Jacksonville this year, and has put together an 0-1 record linked with an ERA of 2.08. In the second half of the year Ross has been solid, manufacturing a sub-three ERA in 12 starts. The 2015 campaign marked his first year at the Double-A level. The Braves drafted Ross in the 18th round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Frostburg State University.
The 2015 season of Suns baseball is presented by EverBank, the official banking partner of the Jacksonville Suns. Sponsorships, group outings, and season/individual game tickets are currently available by calling the Suns front office at (904) 358-2846.
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Monday we close out the regular season with the final game of the Bragan Era, Labor Day Holiday Matinee and Kids Run The Bases! It’s Baseball in the SUNShine and join us for Pedro’s last game! After the game is the last Kids Run The Bases of the season, presented by VyStar Credit Union & WOKV!
Matchup: Mississippi Braves (36-32, 69-67) @ Jacksonville Suns (28-41, 57-81)
Starters: MIS: RHP Gregg Ross (7-9, 3.99 ERA) vs. JAX: RHP Austin Brice (6-9, 4.67 ERA)
Who’s Hot: Centerfielder Kenny Wilson has hit safely in 17 of his last 19 games, including coming up a double shy of the cycle on Tuesday night in Tennessee, in a game where he collected a homer and four RBI. David Adams collected JAX’s first walk off home run of the year on Thursday night with a three-run shot in the 10th inning, and in this series with the Braves has collected six RBI on seven hits. Infielder Eudy Pina in his last five games has generated a .538 batting mark attached with two RBI and four runs scored. Reliever Tyler Bremer since getting the call up to AA JAX on 8/23 has tossed a total of 11 and a third scoreless frames in relief. Ryan Rieger over his last five games has been swinging a red-hot bat, posting an average of .375, and over his last nine contests, he’s batting .440. Saturday night he tallied his second three-hit game and his first three RBI performance. Danny Black posted four RBI in Sunday night’s win, while tallying his fifth multi-hit game of the year.
Suns Spots: Here’s a note from the official Jacksonville Suns game notes:
-Matt Juengel currently rests tied for second in home runs (17). Outfielder Kenny Wilson is tied for second in stolen bases (37). Viosergy Rosa (77) sits third in walks generated while Elliot Soto is fifth (69). Starter Austin Brice has the third-best K/9 ratio for starters (9.12) and is fifth in K’s (127). David Adams possesses the third-best on-base percentage (.399) and eighth best batting average (.294).