Realmuto and Nicolino 2014 Marlins Minor League Award Winners

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Realmuto and Nicolino were part of the celebration on Saturday as the Suns won the 2014 Southern League title. Photo Courtesy: Jay Metz

Realmuto and Nicolino were part of the celebration on Saturday as the Suns won the 2014 Southern League title. Photo Courtesy: Jay Metz

By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Suns catcher J.T. Realmuto and left-handed pitcher Justin Nicolino were named the 2014 Miami Marlins Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year respectively, announced by Marlins’ Vice President of Player Development Marty Scott on Monday.

The batterymates were key contributors to Jacksonville’s run to a Southern League Championship this season. The Suns won their final 10 games of the regular season to claim the South Division second-half title and qualify for the playoffs, where they went 6-1. It was the third Southern League Championship for Jacksonville since becoming a Marlins’ affiliate in 2009 (also, 2009 & 2010).

Realmuto, also a 2014 Southern League Postseason All-Star, played in 97 games this season with the Suns and hit .299 with eight home runs and 62 RBI. Realmuto also hit .346 (9-for-26) in the postseason with three RBI and drew eight walks in seven games to help a robust .500 on-base percentage. After the Suns clinched the Southern League title on Saturday, Realmuto was informed in the clubhouse that he had earned his third promotion of the season to the major leagues with the Marlins.

Realmuto spent the entire 2013 season in Jacksonville, where he earned Southern League Midseason All-Star honors and played in the 2013 Southern League All-Star Game in Jacksonville. In 2012 Realmuto earned Florida State League Midseason All-Star honors with the Jupiter Hammerheads. Realmuto was selected by the Marlins in the third round of the 2010 draft out of Carl Albert High School in Midwest City, Oklahoma. Coming into this season Realmuto was listed by Baseball America as the Marlins No. 10 prospect, as well as the “best defensive catcher” in the Miami organization.

In 27 starts this season for the Suns, Nicolino went 14-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 170 and a third innings pitched. Nicolino led the Southern League in wins with 14, and his ERA of 2.85 gave him the league ERA title. Nicolino was dominant in the postseason, going 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA (3 ER in 13.2 IP) in his two starts, and earned the victory in the clinching game of the 2014 Southern League Championship Series with six and two-thirds scoreless innings of work against Chattanooga last Saturday.

The award adds to the list of accolades for Baseball America’s No. 4 Marlins prospect Nicolino, who earlier this season was named a Southern League Midseason All-Star, and the league also announced him the “Most Outstanding Pitcher” in the Southern League this season. The postseason Southern League All-Star honor is the fourth time in his four-year career. Nicolino was also twice named a Southern League pitcher of the Week on June 23 and August 4.

In 2013 Nicolino was a Florida State League Midseason and Postseason All-Star, as well as the Florida State League Pitcher of the Year. In 2012 Nicolino was a Midwest League Midseason and Postseason All-Star, as well as the TOPPS Midwest League Pitcher of the Year. In his first full professional season in 2011 Nicolino was a Northwest League Postseason All-Star, as well as a Baseball America Short Season All-Star.

Nicolino was originally selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the second round of the 2010 draft out of University High School in Orlando, Florida. He was acquired by the Marlins organization following the 2012 season in a 12-player trade with the Blue Jays.

Suns Win 6-1 In Game Three To Earn Sixth SL Title In Franchise History

Game Recap

JACKSONVILLE, FL – Early offense and a brilliant outing from Justin Nicolino lifted the Jacksonville Suns (6-1) past the Chattanooga Lookouts (3-5) by a 6-1 final in game three of the Southern League Championship Series on Friday from Bragan Field, completing a three-game sweep to give the Suns their sixth Southern League Championship in franchise history.

Justin Nicolino (W, 2-0) earned the win for Jacksonville after holding the Lookouts scoreless on seven hits in 6.2 brilliant innings of work, walking two batters and striking out three in his winning effort.

Reid Redman retired all four batters he faced in 1.1 hitless innings, collecting three strikeouts in his relief effort.

Matt Ramsey allowed one run (earned) on two hits with one strikeout in his one inning of work to finish off the ballgame in a non-save situation.

Jeremy Kehrt took the loss for Chattanooga after allowing three runs (all earned) on five hits with a walk and a strikeout in 2.1 innings of work.

The Suns did not wait long to get on the scoreboard on Friday night, scoring three times in the bottom of the first. Viosergy Rosa (HR, 4) cranked a three-run home run over the wall in right to give Jacksonville a 3-0 lead after the first inning of play.

That score held until the Suns added to their advantage with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. An Austin Barnes RBI double followed later by a Viosergy Rosa RBI single put the Suns in front by a 5-0 score after five innings.

Jacksonville furthered their lead with a run in the bottom of the sixth, as Isaac Galloway scored on Austin Nola’s two-out RBI double to make it a 6-0 Suns edge after six innings.

The Lookouts broke up the shutout after Jeremy Hazelbaker’s pinch-hit sacrifice fly cut the Suns’ lead to 6-1 and capped off the scoring in game three.

With the win, the Suns have earned the sixth Southern League Championship in their franchise history, and the team’s first league title since 2010.

First baseman Viosergy Rosa was named the MVP of the Southern League Championship Series.

Including the postseason, the Suns won 16 of their final 17 games to become Southern League champions.

The 2014 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.

Below are three highlights from Friday’s ballgame:

Suns Return Home, One Win From Southern League Title

Game Preview

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Championship Series action returns to The Baseball Grounds with Game Three tonight at 7:05 ET. (Photo: Jacksonville Suns)

By Jason Patterson / Jacksonville Suns

Southern League Championship Series baseball arrives in the River City tonight. Jacksonville returns home just a single win away from absolute victory in 2014.

The Suns (5-1, 81-59) and Lookouts (3-4, 61-77) will face off in Game Three on Friday evening at The Baseball Grounds. First pitch in the possible clincher is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. ET.

By virtue  of sweeping the road portion of the series, the Suns hold a commanding two games to none advantage over Chattanooga in the best of five Southern League finals. The Lookouts must win tonight in order to keep their season alive.

Jacksonville nailed down a 5-3 win in Game One. They followed up with an offensive explosion during the middle innings of Game Two, which left little in doubt late in the contest. The Suns erased an early 2-0 deficit en route to the eventual 12-3 final last night at AT&T Field.

The home team will have three opportunities, if needed, to claim the one additional win required to secure a sixth Southern League title. They can also rest in the knowledge that all remaining post-season games will be played within the friendly confines of Bragan Field.

For the Suns and their fans, the incredible late season, and now post-season, run continues. Jacksonville has won five of six playoff games and fifteen of their last sixteen contests overall. A sixteenth win in the stretch would return the Billy Hitchcock trophy to the River City for the first time in four seasons. 

Jacksonville will turn to one of its best all around starters this season in an attempt to close out the series. Justin Nicolino was selected as the Southern League’s “Pitcher of the Year” at the end of the regular season, and with good reason. Nicolino (14-4, 2.85) posted fourteen wins and the league’s best E.R.A. in 2014.

The Suns southpaw won his only post-season start September 6 in the home opener against Mobile during the South Division Series. Nicolino is 1-0 with a 3.86 E.R.A. in the playoffs.

Jeremy Kehrt (2-0, 1.69) joined the Lookouts mid-season, making four starts for Chattanooga during their run to the North Division second half title. The right-hander has been extremely impressive in limited action.

Kehrt received a no decision in his only post-season start thus far, working five full innings while allowing just four hits and one Huntsville run in Game Three of the North Series. The twenty-eight year old will be tasked with setting the tone for a visiting club hoping to force a fourth game in the series tomorrow night.

Fans can listen to every pitch of the Championship Series live on the Suns Baseball Network, with Roger Hoover providing play by play. Hoover will be joined by Michael West and Jason Patterson. West and Patterson will host a special post-season edition of the Memorial Hospital Pre-game Show, beginning at 6:50 p.m. ET on the Suns Baseball Network.

Previewing The Championship Series

Jacksonville reached the final round of the postseason by disposing of Mobile in only four games. The series, which the Suns claimed 3 games to 1, included a 9-1 rout on Monday in the South Division clincher.

Chattanooga’s entry route was a little tougher, requiring all five games of the North Division Series against first-half champion Huntsville. The finale saw the Stars battle back to within one run in the 9th inning before the Lookouts nailed things down to punch their ticket into the title matchup.

Despite the noticeable difference in the overall season records, the clubs appear evenly matched. They met fifteen times in the regular season, with the series undecided until the August 16 finale at AT&T Field. This most recent battle was settled with the narrowest of victories. Jacksonville took the game by a 9-8 final and the series eight games to seven.

The head to head series has already provided some notable moments. The clubs have twice played extra innings, splitting the extended games on back to back days in Jacksonville across Independence Day weekend. Surprisingly, for two very effective offensive clubs, the Suns shutout Chattanooga on three separate occasions, with the Lookouts twice returning the favor.   

Both teams peaked at the perfect time, claiming the second half crown in their respective divisions. Jacksonville finished the second half twenty games over .500, owning a 45-25 second half mark. Chattanooga stood alone as the only team in the North to post a winning second half. The Lookouts secured a 35-33 final record in second half action.

What should not be lost in the mere numbers, however, is the way both clubs closed out the season. Chattanooga compiled an eye-popping twenty wins against only eight losses across the season’s final month.

Jacksonville swept the final two series of the year, winning their final ten regular season games consecutively to gain entrance into the playoffs. Every victory in the impressive stretch was necessary to secure the second half division title by only a single game over the Mississippi Braves.

Interestingly, the Suns only loss in nearly three weeks remains a 4-3, eleven inning, decision in Game Two of their first round series against the BayBears. Chattanooga was shutout in both losses to Huntsville during the North Division series.

Post-Season History

Back to Back Championships in 2009 and 2010 marked the Suns most recent post-season appearances. Jacksonville is playing deep into September for a league record nineteenth time in franchise history.

The Suns own five Southern League crowns and ten professional baseball titles overall. Jacksonville flies Southern League championship pennants from 1996, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2010. River City representatives have also brought home Championships in the South Atlantic League (3), Southeastern League (1) and International League (1) along the way.

Jacksonville is playing in the Southern League Championship Series for the fourteenth time in 2014, also the league’s best all-time mark. The Suns have claimed victory during each of their last three trips into the final round of the post-season.

1988 remains Chattanooga’s lone championship season to this point. The Lookouts have played for the Southern League title on four separate occasions, falling short in 1992, 1995 and 1996. The franchise boasts four other minor league baseball titles, all secured between 1932 and 1961. Chattanooga is making its impressive thirteenth Southern League post-season appearance overall.

Though the combined success of both clubs in regards to reaching the post-season might lead one to believe otherwise, the only previous Southern League Championship Series meeting between this year’s participants was in 1996. The matchup stands as the most recent championship appearance for Chattanooga. Jacksonville secured its first league title by taking the series three games to one.

Tonight’s Key Information

Matchup: Jacksonville Suns (81-59, South Champions) @ Chattanooga Lookouts (61-77, North Champions)

Starters: CHT: RHP Jeremy Kehrt (0-0, 1.80) JAX: LHP Justin Nicolino (1-0, 3.86)

Current Series: Suns lead series 2-0.

Who’s Hot: -Brady Shoemaker (go-ahead double in the 5th inning last night, followed by a two-run HR in the 9th inning to put the exclamation point on the Suns second win)

-Austin Barnes & Viosergy Rosa (combined for a pair of two-run homers in the 6th which helped build a 7-2 advantage at the time in Game 2)

Season Series: Jacksonville won the season series 8 games to 7.

Southern League Titles: Jacksonville, 5 (1996, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010)

                                            Chattanooga, 1 (1988)

Sun Spots: Here are a few pieces of valuable information to consider heading into tonight’s game, direct from the official Jacksonville Suns game notes compiled by Michael West:

– The Suns tied their season-high in hits with 16 in Thursday’s 12-3 game two victory over the Chattanooga 

Lookouts, with nine of those his going for extra bases (three home runs, six doubles).

– By erasing an early 2-0 deficit, the Suns earned their 42nd come-from-behind victory of the 2014 season.

– After putting up 12 runs in game two, the Suns improved to 54-9 on the year when scoring five or more runs.

– Additionally, Jacksonville upped its record to 59-6 overall on the year when holding a lead after six innings.

– By drawing ten walks for the second straight game against the Lookouts, the Suns have outdrawn them in walks by a 20-3 margin (Suns have outdrawn their opponents 40-7 in walks during the duration of the playoffs).

Today’s broadcast will air on the Suns Baseball Network’s flagship station 94.1 Classic Rock WSOS-FM. It can also be found via the Jacksonville Suns mobile app. Click the link below to listen online.

Listen to Game Three of the Southern League Championship: Live – September 12, 2014

You can also keep up with all the game action on the Suns Baseball Network and by following the Suns on Twitter and liking us on Facebook.

Tickets Still Available For All Potential Home Games

Those in the Jacksonville area who have not yet made plans to attend tonight’s potentially decisive game of the Southern League Championship Series are encouraged to come out and support the Suns. The home portion of the 2014 Southern League Championship Series begins at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Tickets are still available for tonight’s contest, allowing fans to become a part of one of the great home field advantages in Minor League Baseball. As a special promotion, the Suns are allowing all Kids 12 and under in free. Don’t miss your chance to perhaps witness history.

The 2014 season of Suns baseball is presented by EverBank, the official banking partner of the Jacksonville Suns. Post-Season tickets are currently on sale through the Suns Box Office. Championship Series tickets are sold at premium pricing with $10.50 for general admission, $12.50 for reserved seating and $16.50 for Homeplate Box seating. Tickets can be purchased by calling (904) 358-2846, or online at http://www.jaxsuns.com.

Suns Scorch Lookouts 12-3 In Game Two

Game Recap

CHATTANOOGA, TN – After trailing 2-0 early, the Jacksonville Suns (5-1) rattled off the next 12 runs of the game and ultimately downed the Chattanooga Lookouts (3-4) by a 12-3 final in game two of the Southern League Championship Series on Thursday from AT&T Field. With the win, the Suns now hold a 2-0 series lead.

Jon Link (W, 1-0) picked up the win for the Suns by allowing two runs (both earned) on seven hits with a walk and six strikeouts in his five innings of work.

James Nygren held the Lookouts without a run on a pair of hits and two strikeouts in his two scoreless innings of relief.

Blake Logan struck out the side in order in a scoreless 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth inning.

Jheyson Manzueta allowed a lone run (earned) on one hit with one strikeout in his one inning of work to finish off the ballgame in a non-save situation.

Steve Smith (L, 0-2) was saddled with the loss for Chattanooga after surrendering six runs (five earned) on seven hits with four walks and three strikeouts in his 5.2 innings.

The game was scoreless until the Lookouts broke through with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning. Steve Smith helped his own cause with a two-out, two-run single into right field to put Chattanooga up by a 2-0 score after two innings of play.

The Suns would hop on the scoreboard with two runs to tie the game up in the top of the fourth. A Jon Link RBI groundout brought in Terrence Dayleg to cut the lead in half, while the next batter Austin Nola contributed a two-out RBI single to make it a 2-2 ballgame after three and a half innings.

Jacksonville would then take the lead with a single run in the top of the fifth inning. Brady Shoemaker’s RBI double hugged the third base line and stayed fair to bring in J.T. Realmuto from second to give the Suns a 3-2 lead with four and a half innings complete.

The Suns added to their lead by sending 10 men to the plate and scoring five times in the top of the sixth, all of which came with two outs. Two-run home runs from Austin Barnes (HR, 2) and Viosergy Rosa (HR, 3) plus a Terrence Dayleg RBI single stretched Jacksonville’s lead to 8-2 after five and a half innings of play.

But the Suns were not done in the top of the ninth, scoring four more times to further their advantage. Back-to-back RBI doubles from J.T. Realmuto and Viosergy Rosa and a two-run homer from Brady Shoemaker (HR, 2) made it a 12-2 Suns lead with eight and a half innings in the books.

The Lookouts were able to cut into the lead with a run in the bottom of the ninth, using Chris O’Brien’s (HR, 3) leadoff homer to make it a 12-3 Suns lead and cap off the scoring in game two.

With the victory, the Jacksonville Suns now find themselves with a 2-0 series lead, needing one more victory to clinch the sixth Southern League Championship in the franchise’s history.

The Suns finished with 16 hits on the game, with nine of them going for extra bases. Every Suns position player in the starting lineup recorded a hit, including two-hit games from Brady Shoemaker and Terrence Dayleg and three-hit efforts from Austin Barnes, Viosergy Rosa and Isaac Galloway.

Lookouts position player Alex Liddi got the final out of the top of the ninth inning in his professional pitching debut.

The Suns and Lookouts will be back at it for game three of the Southern League Championship Series on Friday, as the series shifts back to Jacksonville with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. ET from Bragan Field. The Suns are set to throw out left-hander Justin Nicolino (1-0, 3.86) while the Lookouts are due to counter with right-hander Jeremy Kehrt (0-0, 1.80).

Suns fans can listen to Friday’s game on the Suns Baseball Network, 94.1 WSOS-FM or through www.jaxsuns.com, MiLB.com or the Suns iPhone or Android app beginning at 6:50 p.m. ET with the Memorial Hospital Suns Pregame Show.

The 2014 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.

Below are two highlights from Thursday’s ballgame:

Suns Look To Build On 1-0 Series Lead In Tonight’s Game Two Of Southern League Championship

Game Preview

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Jacksonville took game one in Chattanooga on Wednesday night with a 5-3 Final. (Photo: Roger C. Hoover)

By Jason Patterson / Jacksonville Suns

After holding on to claim the opening game of the 2014 Southern League Championship Series, Jacksonville will attempt to build a commanding lead by passing the final road test of the year tonight in Chattanooga. The Suns (4-1, 81-59) and Lookouts (3-3, 61-77) continue the series with Game Two at 7:15 p.m. ET.

Having now won fourteen of the past fifteen games, the red-hot Suns are within two wins of a sixth Southern League Title. Chattanooga enters tonight’s game hoping to even the Championship Series and avoid departing for Jacksonville with their backs against the wall.

The Suns scored in each of the first two innings of Game One, compiling a 5-1 lead after two frames of action. It would be enough for Jacksonville, as the Suns prevailed for a 5-3 victory and a 1-0 advantage in the series.

An even eight hits were secured by both clubs and Chattanooga was responsible for the game’s only home run, thanks to Corey Seager’s two run blast in the bottom of the sixth. Despite holding Jacksonville scoreless after the three-run second and bringing the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning, the home team was unable to pull even.

In the end, the Suns had made the most of early opportunities, then kept the Lookouts at bay behind starter Jose Urena (W, 1-0) and solid work from four members of the bullpen. Collin Cargill, Frankie Reed and Nick Wittgren were credited with holds, while Matt Ramsey secured his third save of the post-season.

J.T. Realmuto and Austin Nola led the way offensively for the Suns, both scoring a pair of runs in the contest. Realmuto reached base four times, with a pair of hits and an RBI. The Suns catcher also drove in a run during the decisive second frame. 

Tonight, Jacksonville will hand the ball to righty Jon Link (0-0, 3.00) in an effort to bring a two games to none series lead home to the River City. Link posted a 1-0 mark alongside his 2.25 E.R.A. in two late season starts for the visitors. The former major league hurler picked up the victory on the road August 24 against Tennessee.

Chattanooga is expected to counter with Steve Smith (0-1, 7.71). The right-hander owned a 3-2 record with a 2.76 E.R.A. during the regular season.

Smith led the Lookouts to a 5-1 victory in his only start against Jacksonville. His solid outing on August 15 stands as his longest of the season. It was marked by eight full innings of work, in which he allowed the Suns just a single run. 

Both pitchers will be making their second start in the post-season on Thursday evening. Link garnered a no-decision in Game Two of the South Division Series for Jacksonville. It ended up being the BayBears only victory in the series. Mobile won the contest 4-3 in extra innings, after bouncing back form an early 3-0 deficit last Friday night.

Smith was knocked around a bit by the Stars in the second game of the North Division matchup. Lasting only four and two-thirds innings, Smith was responsible for four runs, all earned, on five hits. He was saddled with the loss in Huntsville’s eventual 9-0 shutout.

Fans can listen to every pitch of the Championship Series live on the Suns Baseball Network, with Roger Hoover providing play by play. Hoover will be joined by Michael West and Jason Patterson. West and Patterson will host a special post-season edition of the Memorial Hospital Pre-game Show, beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET on the Suns Baseball Network.

Previewing The Championship Series

Jacksonville reached the final round of the postseason by disposing of Mobile in only four games. The series, which the Suns claimed 3 games to 1, included a 9-1 rout on Monday in the South Division clincher.

Chattanooga’s entry route was a little tougher, requiring all five games of the North Division Series against first-half champion Huntsville. The finale saw the Stars battle back to within one run in the 9th inning before the Lookouts nailed things down to punch their ticket into the title matchup.

Despite the noticeable difference in the overall season records, these teams appear evenly matched. They met fifteen times in the regular season, with the series unsettled until the August 16 finale at AT&T Field. This most recent battle was decided by a narrow one run Jacksonville victory, which handed the Suns the series by a single contest. The final count was eight games to seven.

The head to head series has already provided some notable moments. The clubs have twice played extra innings, splitting the extended games on back to back days in Jacksonville across Independence Day weekend. Surprisingly, for two very effective offensive clubs, the Suns shutout Chattanooga on three separate occasions, with the Lookouts twice returning the favor.   

Both teams peaked at the perfect time, claiming the second half crown in their respective divisions. Jacksonville finished the second half twenty games over .500, owning a 45-25 second half mark. Chattanooga stood alone as the only team in the North to post a winning second half. The Lookouts secured a 35-33 final record in second half action.

What should not be lost in the mere numbers, however, is the way both clubs closed out the season. Chattanooga compiled an eye-popping twenty wins against only eight losses across the season’s final month. Jacksonville swept the final two series of the year, winning the final ten regular season games consecutively to gain entrance into the playoffs.

Interestingly, the Suns only loss in nearly three weeks was a 4-3, eleven inning, decision in Game Two of their first round series against the BayBears. Chattanooga was shutout in both losses to Huntsville during the North Division series.

Post-Season History

Back to Back Championships in 2009 and 2010 marked the Suns most recent post-season appearances. Jacksonville is playing deep into September for a league record nineteenth time in franchise history.

The Suns own five Southern League crowns and ten professional baseball titles overall. Jacksonville flies Southern League championship pennants from 1996, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2010. River City representatives have also brought home Championships in the South Atlantic League (3), Southeastern League (1) and International League (1) along the way.

Jacksonville is playing in the Southern League Championship Series for the fourteenth time in 2014, also the league’s best all-time mark. The Suns have claimed victory during each of their last three trips into the final round of the post-season.

1988 stands as Chattanooga’s lone championship season to this point. The Lookouts have played for the Southern League title on four separate occasions, falling just short in 1992, 1995 and 1996. The franchise boasts four other minor league baseball titles, all secured between 1932 and 1961. Chattanooga is making its impressive thirteenth Southern League post-season appearance overall.

Though the combined success of both clubs in regards to reaching the post-season might lead one to believe otherwise, the only previous Southern League Championship Series meeting between this year’s participants was in 1996. Jacksonville secured its first league title by taking the series three games to one.

Tonight’s Key Information

Matchup: Jacksonville Suns (81-59, South Champions) @ Chattanooga Lookouts (61-77, North Champions)

Starters: CHT: RHP Steve Smith (0-1, 7.71) JAX: RHP Jon Link (0-0, 3.00)

Current Series: Suns lead series 1-0.

Who’s Hot: J.T. Realmuto (reached base four times, including an RBI single and one of his two runs scored in Jacksonville’s effective second inning of Game One)

Season Series: Jacksonville won the season series 8 games to 7.

Southern League Titles: Jacksonville, 5 (1996, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010)

                                            Chattanooga, 1 (1988)

Sun Spots: Here are a few pieces of valuable information to consider heading into tonight’s game, direct from the official Jacksonville Suns game notes compiled by Michael West:

– Suns pitching established a new season-high in strikeouts with 15 in Wednesday’s 5-3 victory in game one of the SLCS (Urena, 7; Cargill, 1; Reed, 4; Ramsey, 3).

– By hopping on the board first in game 1, Jacksonville improved its record to 55-22 when scoring first in a game.

– With five runs in their game one win, the Suns improved to 53-9 on the year when scoring five or more runs.

– Additionally, Jacksonville upped its record to 58-6 overall on the year when holding a lead after six innings.

– The Suns find themselves at 51-25 on the 2014 season in games decided by one or two runs (the Suns led the Southern League in win percentage in both one-run games, .673, and two-run games, .667).

Today’s broadcast will air on the Suns Baseball Network’s flagship station 94.1 Classic Rock WSOS-FM. It can also be found via the Jacksonville Suns mobile app. Click the link below to listen online.

Listen to Game Two of the Southern League Championship: Live – September 11, 2014

You can also keep up with all the game action on the Suns Baseball Network and by following the Suns on Twitter and liking us on Facebook.

The 2014 season of Suns baseball is presented by EverBank, the official banking partner of the Jacksonville Suns. Post-Season tickets are currently on sale through the Suns Box Office. Championship Series tickets are sold at premium pricing with $10.50 for general admission, $12.50 for reserved seating and $16.50 for Homeplate Box seating. Tickets can be purchased by calling (904) 358-2846, or online at http://www.jaxsuns.com.

Suns Hold Off Lookouts 5-3 In Game One

Game Recap

CHATTANOOGA, TN – After scoring five runs in the first two innings, the Jacksonville Suns (4-1) used excellent pitching to hold off the Chattanooga Lookouts (3-3) by a 5-3 final in game one of the Southern League Championship Series on Wednesday from AT&T Field. With the win, the Suns now hold a 1-0 series lead.

Hear from catcher J.T. Realmuto after he reached base four times in Wednesday’s 5-3 Suns victory in game one:

Jose Urena (W, 1-0) collected the victory in game one for Jacksonville, giving up three runs (all earned) on seven hits with a walk and seven strikeouts in 5.1 innings.

Collin Cargill (H, 2) retired both batters he faced, striking out one of them in his 0.2 innings of scoreless relief.

Frankie Reed (H, 2) struck out four hitters in 1.2 shutdown innings of relief, only surrendering one hit along the way.

Nick Wittgren (H, 1) walked a batter but did not allow a run in his 0.1 inning relief effort.

Matt Ramsey (SV, 3) nailed down the game one save by striking out the side in order in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Suns struck first on Wednesday, scoring twice in the top of the first inning. A Brady Shoemaker sacrifice fly and a two-out RBI single from Joe Benson put the Suns ahead by a 2-0 score after the first half-inning of play.

But the Lookouts answered right back with one run in the bottom of the first. Jeremy Hazelbaker came in to score on Daniel Mayora’s sacrifice fly to cut it to a 2-1 Suns lead with one inning in the books.

Jacksonville got that run back and more thanks to some two-out magic in the top of the second inning. A J.T. Realmuto RBI single, an Andres Santiago wild pitch that scored Austin Nola and a RBI double from Viosergy Rosa put the Suns in front by a 5-1 score after one and a half innings.

That score held until the Lookouts pushed across two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Corey Seager (HR, 1) belted an opposite-field two-run home run over the wall in left to cut Jacksonville’s lead to 5-3 with six innings complete. Seager’s homer capped off the scoring in Wednesday’s game one of the series.

The Suns and Lookouts will be back at it for game two of the Southern League Championship Series on Thursday, with first pitch set for 7:15 p.m. ET from AT&T Field. The Suns are set to throw out right-hander Jon Link (0-0, 3.00) while the Lookouts are due to counter with a righty of their own in Steve Smith (0-1, 7.71).

Suns fans can listen to Thursday’s game on the Suns Baseball Network, 94.1 WSOS-FM or through www.jaxsuns.com, MiLB.com or the Suns iPhone or Android app beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET with the Memorial Hospital Suns Pregame Show.

The 2014 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.

Below are two highlights from Wednesday’s ballgame:

Suns, Lookouts Open 2014 Southern League Championship Series Tonight In Chattanooga

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AT&T Field is the site of tonight’s opener in the 2014 Southern League Championship. (Photo courtesy: Chattanooga Lookouts)

By Jason Patterson / Jacksonville Suns

Undeniably, the two hottest teams in the Southern League down the stretch have survived and advanced into what is expected to be a highly competitive 2014 Championship Series. It begins tonight in Chattanooga.

The Jacksonville Suns (3-1, 81-59) and Chattanooga Lookouts (3-2, 61-77) will meet in a best of five format for the right to hoist the Billy Hitchcock trophy. The clubs begin play at AT&T Field Wednesday evening, with the first pitch of Game One scheduled for 7:15 p.m. ET.

Jose Urena (0-0, 6.00) will be the Game One starter for Jacksonville. The right-hander received a no-decision for his work in the post-season opener against Mobile, which saw the Suns steal away victory with a late rally marked by Austin Barnes go-ahead home run in the 9th.

Urena posted a 13-8 record in the regular season with a 3.33 ERA. In three starts against the Lookouts, he was 1-2 with a 3.50 E.R.A.

Chattanooga is expected to hand the ball to right-hander Andres Santiago (1-0, 3.00). Santiago pitched well enough across six innings in Game One of the division series to give the Lookouts an early advantage. The club held on for a 4-3 victory and a 1-0 series lead. He was 6-8 with a 4.47 E.R.A. during the 2014 regular season.

Fans can listen to every pitch of the Championship Series live on the Suns Baseball Network, with Roger Hoover providing play by play. Hoover will be joined by Michael West and Jason Patterson. West and Patterson will host a special post-season edition of the Memorial Hospital Pre-game Show, beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET on the Suns Baseball Network.

How They Arrived Here

Jacksonville reached the final round of the postseason by disposing of Mobile in only four games. The series, which the Suns claimed 3 games to 1, included a 9-1 rout on Monday in the South Division clincher.

Chattanooga’s entry route was a little tougher, requiring all five games of the North Division Series against first-half champion Huntsville. The finale saw the Stars battle back to within one run in the 9th inning before the Lookouts nailed things down to punch their ticket into the title matchup.

Despite the noticeable difference in the overall season records, these teams appear evenly matched. They met fifteen times in the regular season, with the series unsettled until the August 16 finale at AT&T Field. This most recent battle was decided by a narrow one run Jacksonville victory, which handed the Suns the series by a single contest. The final count was eight games to seven.

The head to head series has already provided some notable moments. The clubs have twice played extra innings, splitting the extended games on back to back days in Jacksonville across Independence Day weekend. Surprisingly, for two very effective offensive clubs, the Suns shutout Chattanooga on three separate occasions, with the Lookouts twice returning the favor.   

Both teams peaked at the perfect time, claiming the second half crown in their respective divisions. Jacksonville finished the second half twenty games over .500, owning a 45-25 second half mark. Chattanooga stood alone as the only team in the North to post a winning second half. The Lookouts secured a 35-33 final record in second half action.

What should not be lost in the mere numbers, however, is the way both clubs closed out the season. Chattanooga compiled an eye-popping twenty wins against only eight losses across the season’s final month. Jacksonville swept the final two series of the year, winning the final ten regular season games consecutively to gain entrance into the playoffs.

Interestingly, the Suns only loss in nearly three weeks was a 4-3, eleven inning, decision in Game Two of their first round series against the BayBears. Chattanooga was shutout in both losses to Huntsville during the North Division series.

Post-Season History

Back to Back Championships in 2009 and 2010 marked the Suns most recent post-season appearances. Jacksonville is playing deep into September for a league record nineteenth time in franchise history.

The Suns own five Southern League crowns and ten professional baseball titles overall. Jacksonville flies Southern League championship pennants from 1996, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2010. River City representatives have also brought home Championships in the South Atlantic League (3), Southeastern League (1) and International League (1) along the way.

Jacksonville is playing in the Southern League Championship Series for the fourteenth time in 2014, also the league’s best all-time mark. The Suns have claimed victory during each of their last three trips into the final round of the post-season.

1988 stands as Chattanooga’s lone championship season to this point. The Lookouts have played for the Southern League title on four separate occasions, falling just short in 1992, 1995 and 1996. The franchise boasts four other minor league baseball titles, all secured between 1932 and 1961. Chattanooga is making its impressive thirteenth Southern League post-season appearance overall.

Though the combined success of both clubs in regards to reaching the post-season might lead one to believe otherwise, the only previous Southern League Championship Series meeting between this year’s participants was in 1996. Jacksonville secured its first league title by taking the series three games to one.

Tonight’s Key Information

Matchup: Jacksonville Suns (81-59, South Champions) @ Chattanooga Lookouts (61-77, North Champions)

Starters: CHT: RHP Andres Santiago (1-0, 3.00) JAX: RHP Jose Urena (0-0, 6.00)

Current Series: Begins Tonight.

Who’s Hot: Suns and Lookouts (Both teams ended the regular season on historic runs, Jacksonville winning ten straight games, Chattanooga nailing down twenty of its last twenty-eight games)

Season Series: Jacksonville won the season series 8 games to 7.

Southern League Titles: Jacksonville, 5 (1996, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010)

                                            Chattanooga, 1 (1988)

Sun Spots: Here are a few pieces of valuable information to consider heading into tonight’s game, direct from the official Jacksonville Suns game notes compiled by Michael West:

– With six total home runs in their four-game series victory over the Mobile BayBears, the Suns tied their season-high for most homers in a single series (also had six homers 5/15-5/19 at Pensacola and 8/22-8/26 at Tennessee).

– In their South Division Championship Series win, the Suns outdrew the BayBears 20-4 in walks.

– With nine runs in their game four victory, the Suns improved to 52-9 overall on the year when scoring 5+ runs.

– Additionally, Jacksonville improved its mark to 57-6 overall on the year when leading after six innings.

– The Suns now find themselves with a 40-21 record when playing error-free baseball on the 2014 season.

– After outhitting the BayBears 8-7 in game 4, the Suns are 44-13 overall when outhitting their opponents.

Today’s broadcast will air on the Suns Baseball Network’s flagship station 94.1 Classic Rock WSOS-FM. It can also be found via the Jacksonville Suns mobile app. Click the link below to listen online.

Listen to Game One of the Southern League Championship: Live – September 10, 2014

You can also keep up with all the game action on the Suns Baseball Network and by following the Suns on Twitter and liking us on Facebook.

The 2014 season of Suns baseball is presented by EverBank, the official banking partner of the Jacksonville Suns. Post-Season tickets are currently on sale through the Suns Box Office. Championship Series tickets are sold at premium pricing with $10.50 for general admission, $12.50 for reserved seating and $16.50 for Homeplate Box seating. Tickets can be purchased by calling (904) 358-2846, or online at http://www.jaxsuns.com.

Southern League Central – 2014 Final Edition

Southern League Central

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The 2014 Southern League Championship Series is set. (Photo: Brian DeLettre/Jacksonville Suns)

By Jason Patterson / Jacksonville Suns

Thank you for your support of Southern League Baseball and Southern League Central. It has been a privilege to provide an in-depth look at the standings and recaps during each day of the regular and post-season. Congratulations to the Jacksonville Suns and Chattanooga Lookouts on reaching the 2014 Southern League Championship Series. Here’s one final look back at the North and South Division Series. The best is yet to come!

South Division Championship Series

Jacksonville Suns (2nd Half Champion) vs Mobile BayBears (1st Half Champion)

Jacksonville wins South Division Title 3 games to 1

Game 1:    Sept 4 – @ MOB   Jacksonville Suns 5  Mobile BayBears 4     BOX  / GAME STORY 
Game 2:    Sept 5 – @ MOB   Mobile BayBears 4 Jacksonville Suns 3 (11)    BOX  / GAME STORY      
Game 3:    Sept 6 – @ JAX    Jacksonville Suns 7 Mobile BayBears 5   BOX  / GAME STORY
Game 4:    Sept 7 – @ JAX    Jacksonville Suns 9 Mobile BayBears 1   BOX  / GAME STORY    

 

 North Division Championship Series

Chattanooga Lookouts (2nd Half Champion) vs Huntsville Stars (1st Half Champion)

Chattanooga wins North Division Title 3 games to 2

Game 1:    Sept 4 – @ HVL   Chattanooga Lookouts 4 Huntsville Stars 3        BOX / GAME STORY 
Game 2:    Sept 5 – @ HVL    Huntsville Stars 9 Chattanooga Lookouts 0       BOX / GAME STORY 
Game 3:    Sept 6 – @ CHT    Chattanooga Lookouts 2 Huntsville Stars 1      BOX / GAME STORY 
Game 4:    Sept 7 – @ CHT    Huntsville Stars 4 Chattanooga Lookouts 0   BOX / GAME STORY
Game 5:    Sept 8 – @ CHT   Chattanooga Lookouts 7 Huntsville Stars 6   BOX / GAME STORY

Suns Bury BayBears 9-1 In Game Four, Advance To SLCS

Game Recap

JACKSONVILLE, FL – The Jacksonville Suns (3-1) used a three-run seventh and a two-run eighth to create some separation from the Mobile BayBears (1-3) as the Suns earned a berth in the Southern League Championship Series with a 9-1 victory in game four of the South Division Championship Series on Monday from Bragan Field.

Hear from Viosergy Rosa after Jacksonville’s SDCS-clinching 9-1 win in game four:


Jay Rogers (W, 1-0) earned the win for Jacksonville in their series-clinching ballgame, allowing one run (earned) on four hits with two strikeouts over five walk-free innings.

Reid Redman (H, 1) retired all six batters he faced in two stellar innings, striking out one batter along the way.

Nick Wittgren allowed a lone hit in his scoreless eighth inning of work.

Jheyson Manzueta tossed a scoreless ninth inning, giving up two hits while striking out one batter in his one inning of relief.

A.J. Schugel (L, 0-1) took the loss for Mobile after surrendering four runs (three earned) on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 3.1 innings of work.

The game remained scoreless until the top of the fourth when Mobile hopped on the board with a single run. Brandon Drury scored from second base on Todd Glaesmann’s RBI single to give the BayBears a 1-0 lead after three and a half innings of play.

But the Suns struck right back to tie the game and then take the lead with a four-run bottom of the fourth. RBI singles from Joe Benson and Isaac Galloway, a Jay Rogers RBI and a bases-loaded walk to Austin Nola gave the Suns a 4-1 lead with four innings complete.

A lengthy rain delay with Viosergy Rosa on second base and Joe Benson at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning forced Sunday’s game four to be suspended and resumed on Monday beginning at noon.

Well after game four had resumed play on Monday afternoon, Jacksonville added to its lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh. Austin Nola and J.T. Realmuto came around to score on Viosergy Rosa’s two-run double to extend the Suns’ lead to 6-1 after seven innings.

The Suns furthered their advantage by scoring three more times in the eighth inning. The Suns got their first run of the inning on Tom Belza’s fielding error on a ball put in play by Danny Black and added two more on a two-run double by Austin Nola to expand the lead to 9-1 in favor of the Suns and cap off the scoring in game four.

In total, game four featured two hours and eight minutes of two separate rain delays.

With the victory, the Jacksonville Suns are headed back to the Southern League Championship Series for the first time since 2010, when the defeated the Tennessee Smokies in four games to be named Southern League champions.

The Suns will begin the Southern League Championship Series on the road on Wednesday but do not yet know who their opponent will be, as the Huntsville Stars (2-2) and Chattanooga Lookouts (2-2) will play in a decisive game five on Monday night at 7:15 p.m. ET at AT&T Field.

Suns fans can listen to Wednesday’s game on the Suns Baseball Network, 94.1 WSOS-FM or through www.jaxsuns.com, MiLB.com or the Suns iPhone or Android app beginning with the Memorial Hospital Suns Pregame Show.

The 2014 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.

Below are two highlights from game four of the SDCS:

South Division Championship Series Resumes Play At Noon Monday

Game Preview

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By Jason Patterson / Jacksonville Suns

Rain forced the suspension of Game Four in the Southern League’s South Division Championship Series Sunday evening. If the weather holds Monday, one of the two rivals will emerge from the series with a ticket into the Southern League Championship by the end of the night. Jacksonville (2-1) and Mobile (1-2) are scheduled to resume play at Noon ET.

The Suns hold a 2-1 series advantage and  4-1 lead in the ballgame. Play will resume in the bottom of the 5th inning with Viosergy Rosa at second base and Joe Benson at the plate. Benson will be facing a 3-2 count with two outs in the frame. If Jacksonville holds the lead for the duration of the game, the Suns become South Division Champions.

Should Mobile battle back from the three-run deficit to claim the suspended game, the BayBears would force a fifth an decisive game in the SDCS. The potential winner-take-all Game Five, if necessary, would immediately follow the conclusion of suspended contest.

Jacksonville handed the ball to Jay Rogers (7-5, 4.40) in Game Four. The righty was opposed by Mobile right-hander A.J. Schugel (6-4, 3.47) tonight. Now the contest will be handed over to the bullpens the rest of the way.

If the Suns are able to close things out today, they would face the winner of the North Division matchup. That series is tied 2-2 with a decisive game five set to be played at 7:15 ET tonight. The Southern League Championship Series also has a best of five format. It is slated to begin either Tuesday or Wednesday, based on the actual finish date of round one.

As a special promotion during the first round of the playoffs, the Suns are allowing all Kids 12 and under in free. Kids will also be invited to run the bases following the conclusion of tonight’s game. All fans entering the gates in this series will receive 2014 Suns Team Photo.

Fans can listen to all playoff games live on the Suns Baseball Network, with Roger Hoover providing play by play. Hoover will be joined by Michael West and Jason Patterson. West and Patterson will host a post-season edition of the Memorial Hospital Pre-game Show, beginning at 11:45 p.m. ET on the Suns Baseball Network.

Previewing The South Division Series

The success of these two clubs in recent years is well documented. Four of the past five Southern League Championships have been won by the two South Division rivals. They possess nine total Championship trophies between them.

Jacksonville last won the league in 2010, capping a run to back to back titles. It was a victory over Mobile which propelled the Suns into their successful title match with Tennessee. Jacksonville took that previous playoff meeting by a count of three games to one.

Mobile is attempting to claim a fourth straight South Division crown. The BayBears are already making an remarkable fifth consecutive appearance in the division series. The first-half winners also claimed their two most recent Southern League titles in back to back fashion during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

The last time someone besides Jacksonville or Mobile represented the South Division in the Southern League Championship Series was all the way back in 2008, when Mississippi won the league championship. Whatever the results of this series, one of the two competitors will run this notable streak to at least six seasons.

Jacksonville finished twenty games over .500 (45-25) in the second half. This included  a 15-3 mark down the stretch. The club posted an impressive 19-10 record across the season’s final month.

Mobile closed out the second half six games over the .500 (37-31) benchmark, after claiming the first half crown with a 42-27 record. Both clubs finished in third position, behind second place Mississippi, in the final standings of the half they did not claim.

Today’s Key Information

Matchup: Jacksonville Suns (81-59, Second-Half Champions) @ Mobile BayBears (79-58, First-Half Champions)

Starters: MOB: RHP A.J. Schugel (4-1, 1.94) JAX: RHP Jay Rogers (7-5, 4.40)

Current Series: Jacksonville leads series 2-1.

Who’s Hot: Viosergy Rosa, Brady Shoemaker, Joe Benson and Terrence Dayleg (Combined for the Suns only four home run performance of the season. Rosa, Shoemaker and Benson started things with back to back to back home runs in the 2nd inning to give Jacksonville a 3-0 lead)

Season Series: Jacksonville took the regular season series 8 games to 7.

Southern League Titles: Jacksonville, 5 (1996, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010)

Mobile, 4 (1998, 2004*, 2011, 2012)

*weather issues forced the cancellation of the 2004 Championship Series, Mobile and Tennessee were named co-champions

Sun Spots: Here are a few pieces of valuable information to consider heading into tonight’s game, direct from the official Jacksonville Suns game notes compiled by Michael West:

– With home runs from Viosergy Rosa, Brady Shoemaker, Joe Benson and Terrence Dayleg, Jacksonville’s four homers in game three of the SDCS set a new single-game high for the Suns on the 2014 season.

– After hitting three straight homers in the second inning, it marked the first time Jacksonville hitters went back-to-back-to-back since July 27, 2013 (Derek Dietrich, Mark Canha, Zack Cox). The Suns previously had not had back-to-back home runs at any point in the 2014 season.

– With seven runs in game three’s victory, the Suns improved to 51-9 overall on the year when scoring 5+ runs.

– Additionally, Jacksonville improved its record to 56-6 overall on the year when leading after six innings.

– Despite being outhit by Mobile 11-8, the Suns are now 31-43 altogether on the year when being outhit.

Today’s broadcast will air on the Suns Baseball Network’s flagship station 94.1 Classic Rock WSOS-FM. It can also be found via the Jacksonville Suns mobile app. Click the link below to listen online.

Listen to Game Four between the Suns and BayBears: Live – September 8, 2014

You can also keep up with all the game action on the Suns Baseball Network and by following the Suns on Twitter and liking us on Facebook.

The 2014 season of Suns baseball is presented by EverBank, the official banking partner of the Jacksonville Suns. Playoff tickets are currently on sale through the Suns Box Office. Post-Season tickets are sold at premium pricing with $10.50 for general admission, $12.50 for reserved seating and $16.50 for Homeplate Box seating. Tickets can be purchased by calling (904) 358-2846, or online at http://www.jaxsuns.com.