Game Four of the Southern League Championship Series is tonight at The Baseball Grounds. (Photo courtesy: Brian DeLettree / Jacksonville Suns)
By Jason Patterson / Jacksonville Suns
Jacksonville used the home run ball early and often to take control of the South Division Championship Series on Saturday night at The Baseball Grounds. The Suns (2-1) homered four times to take down the BayBears (1-2) and build a 2-1 series advantage. Jacksonville will attempt to close out the series tonight with a 7:05 p.m. ET first pitch.
The Suns have now beaten Mobile in six consecutive games at Bragan Field, dating back to the final regular season series which Jacksonville swept in order to claim the second half crown. Just one more River City win is required for the Suns to punch their ticket into the Southern League Championship Series.
Back to Back to Back homers highlighted Game Three on Saturday evening for the Suns, yet it would be Terrence Dayleg’s three-run shot in the later innings which secured the victory. Viosergy Rosa, Brady Shoemaker and Joe Benson provided the three consecutive blasts before the first out was recorded in the second inning.
Mobile battled back to pull within two runs for a 7-5 final. After Jacksonville built a 7-1 advantage in the middle innings, the BayBears brought the tying run at the plate in the ninth. For the first time in this series, the club possessing the early lead held on for victory.
Jacksonville will hand the ball to Jay Rogers (7-5, 4.40) in Game Four. The righty was 1-0 with an 0.87 E.R.A. against the BayBears in 2014. Rogers will be opposed by Mobile right-hander A.J. Schugel (6-4, 3.47), who will be looking to keep the BayBears season alive with a win tonight.
If the Suns are able to close things out, they would await the winner of the North Division matchup. Chattanooga currently holds a 2-1 lead in that series, thanks to another one run victory last night. 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 twelve and under free admission. All fans entering the gates in this series will receive 2014 Suns Team Photo and Children will be invited to run the bases following the conclusion of tonight’s game.
Fans can listen to all post-season 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 special “Suns Sunday” edition of the Memorial Hospital Pre-game Show, beginning at 6:35 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.
Tonight’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.
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.