By: Kyle Crooks / Jacksonville Suns
After last night’s postponement due to rain, the Jacksonville Suns (14-20) will face the Biloxi Shuckers (20-15) for the first of two doubleheaders set in this series at Joe Davis Stadium with a first pitch slated for 12:00 p.m. ET. Game two will begin roughly 30 minutes after the completion of the opener.
The Suns are currently holding on to a four-game losing streak with all of those defeats at the hands of their in-state rival Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Jacksonville enters play now in last place in the South Division standings five and a half games off the pace of first place Biloxi.
The 55-game road trip to start the season has not seemed to bother the the Shuckers on the diamond, as they have a pair of starters in the top 10 in ERA in Tyler Wagner (1.93) and Brooks Hall (2.11), and the #2 ranked Brewers prospect according to Baseball America Orlando Arcia, batting .354 which is good for fourth in the S.L. Biloxi possess the second best B.A. in the S.L (.266) and the league’s best ERA (3.50). They took four of five games against the Suns in what was a “home series” for the Shuckers at Bragan Field between the dates of 4/21-4/24.
Today’s opening pitching matchup will feature Austin Brice taking the ball for the Suns to be opposed by Biloxi righty Brooks Hall. Brice enters with a 1-3 mark attached with a 7.18 ERA in six starts. In his last trip to the hill against Pensacola, Brice manufactured five innings allowing two earned runs on two hits while walking a season-high six and striking out four in his first win of 2015. The right-hander is the Marlins 29th ranked prospect according to Baseball America, in this his first year of double-A.
Hall enters today’s start 4-1 alongside a 2.19 ERA, and his last time taking the ball he picked up the loss against Jackson on 5/11. It was his shortest start of the year (3 IP) surrendering four earned runs on five hits. The righty has three separate scoreless outings under his belt in 2015 that has aided him to the ninth-lowest ERA (2.19) in the Southern League. The South Carolina native twirled six scoreless frames allowing one hit while walking one and striking out six in a winning decision over the Suns on 4/21, and at the plate, he mashed a solo home run off of Suns starter Trevor Williams.
Game two will feature Jake Esch taking the ball for the Suns to be opposed by Shuckers righty Tyler Wagner. Esch enters today’s start 3-2 alongside a 2.67 ERA, and in his last start he lasted seven innings allowing four earned runs on four hits while walking three and striking out four in his second losing decision of the year at the double-A level.
Wagner takes the ball undefeated with a 5-0 record alongside 1.93 ERA. In his last start on 5/12 against Jackson manufactured six innings surrendering three runs on six hits while walking a batter and striking out four. The right-hander began the season with four straight victories, one of those against Jacksonville on 4/22 in which he worked six innings allowing a solo run on three hits while walking one and striking out three.
Fans can listen to the game live on the Suns Baseball Network, with Roger Hoover providing play by play. Roger Hoover and Kyle Crooks will host the Memorial Hospital Suns Pre-Game Show beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET on the Suns Baseball Network.
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.
Matchup: Jacksonville Suns (14-20) @ Biloxi Shuckers (20-15)
Starters: G1: JAX: RHP Austin Brice (1-3, 7.18 ERA) vs. BLX: RHP Brooks Hall (4-1, 2.19 ERA).
G2: JAX: RHP Jake Esch (3-2, 2.67 ERA) vs. BLX RHP Tyler Wagner (5-0, 1.93 ERA)
Who’s Hot: Carlos Lopez comes into tonight’s game carrying a 10-game hit streak in which he is 15-for-42 (.357) at the plate. Utility infielder David Adams has impressed offensively over his last 10 games posting a .385 average alongside four RBI and three runs scored. Ryan Rieger in his last 10 contests has mustered up a .364 average at the plate (8-for-22) accompanied with three RBI. Last night’s starter Kendry Flores supplied a strong seven scoreless innings in a no decision, which was good enough to trim his ERA (.206) to the league’s seventh-best.
Suns Spots: Here’s a note from the official Jacksonville Suns game notes:
-Starter Kendry Flores is first in batting average against (.170), second in WHIP (0.82), second in fewest baserunners allowed per nine innings (7.83), and controls the seventh-best ERA (2.06) in the Southern League. Closer Sean Donatello sits first in saves (9) in the S.L while fellow reliever Lay Batista is tops in batting average against for relievers (.091).