By: Kyle Crooks / Jacksonville Suns
JACKSONVILLE,Fla. – The Jacksonville Suns (7-8) will take on the Birmingham Barons (7-8) for the second game of this five-game set this afternoon from Bragan Field with a first pitch set for 3:05 p.m. ET.
The Suns stopped a three-game slide last night in a 3-0 victory over Birmingham in the series opener. Suns pitching was dominant in the contest tallying a season-high 19 strikeouts between starter Greg Nappo, and relievers Brian Ellington, Frankie Reed, and Sean Donatello. Nappo in his spot start, lasted three innings allowing two hits while striking out eight batters. Ellington earned his first victory of the year entering the fourth, and twirled 3 and 2/3 innings fanning six batters. Reed and Donatello combined for five strikeouts in 2 and 1/3 innings, and it was Donatello who picked up his fourth save which is good for third best in the Southern League. After being shut out 1-0 in the series finale against Biloxi in which Jacksonville only provided two hits, they got timely offense starting with a Chadd Krist solo home run in the sixth, his first double-A longball. That was soon followed in the same frame by a Matt Juengel’s run-scoring double to push the Suns advantage to 2-0 through six. In the seventh frame the Suns added some insurance when Carlos Lopez provided a sac fly setting the final score of 3-0.
Today’s pitching matchup will feature Suns right-hander Jake Esch in his second start in a Suns uniform after receiving the call up to NOLA (AAA) on 4/14.The last time he took the hill for Jacksonville was on 4/10 against Jackson when he tossed 5 and 1/3 scoreless innings allowing three hits and two walks while striking out six in a rain-shortened start. The Suns would go on to shutout the Generals 7-0. At the triple-A level Esch made two starts, both against the Iowa Cubs finishing 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA in 9 and 1/3 frames tossed in which he allowed six earned runs and struck out nine. For the Barons right-hander Mark Blackmar will get the start, posting a 0-1 record alongside a 7.88 ERA in two starts this year. Blackmar has allowed seven earned runs in a total of eight innings pitched while walking four and striking out six. The righty’s two starts came against Mobile on 4/13 in which he surrendered five earned runs on eight hits in a loss, while in his second go around against Pensacola on 4/21 he relinquished two earned runs on eight hits in a no decision.
Tomorrow there’s a Kids Clinic on the Field & Kids Run the Bases! Bring the kids early for a special on-field baseball clinic conducted by Suns players and coaches from 1:30-2:30! Check out the hottest rides from your Southern Ford Dealers and be sure to stick around after the game for Kids Run the Bases, presented by VyStar Credit Union, CW17 & 95.1 WAPE!
You can watch today’s game in high definition television on CW-17 with Roger Hoover, Suns Owner Peter Bragan Jr., and reporter Mackenzie Thurkill on the call. Also the game will be available on the Suns Baseball Network with Kyle Crooks providing the play-by-play. Coverage will begin at 2:35 p.m. ET with a special “Suns Sunday” edition of the Memorial Hospital Suns Pregame Show on 102.3 FM “The Beach,” milb.tv, and the TuneIn radio app.
Matchup: Birmingham Barons (7-8) @ Jacksonville Suns (7-8)
Starters: BIR: RHP Mark Blackmar (0-1, 7.88 ERA) vs. JAX: RHP Jake Esch (1-1, 3.45 ERA)
Who’s Hot: The combination of Greg Nappo, Brian Ellington, Frankie Reed, and Sean Donatello combined for a team-high 19 strikeouts in last night’s 3-0 win.
Suns Spots: Here’s a note from the official Jacksonville Suns game notes:
-Matt Juengel is tied for first in games played (16) and second in total at-bats (62) in the Southern League. Suns closer Sean Donatello currently has the best K/9 ratio (12.91) in the S.L. and is third in saves (4) after nailing down his fourth save in four tries in last night’s 3-0 win. Starter Chipper Smith boasts the third-best average against in the league (.164).