By: Kyle Crooks / Jacksonville Suns
The Jacksonville Suns (15-24) will open up a home series with the Mississippi Braves (21-18) tonight with a first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. ET from Bragan Field.
Jacksonville is coming off a short five-game road trip in which they lost all but one game to the Biloxi Shuckers. The Suns have dipped to their lowest point below .500 at 15-24, and have dropped four-straight games while coming up on the losing end in eight of their last nine.
The Mississippi Braves come into tonight’s series opener 21-18 and two and a half games back of the first-place Biloxi Shuckers in the Southern League South Division standings. The Braves are fresh off a series victory over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos after taking the rubber match last night 5-2, using a four-run ninth en route to the win. Mississippi possesses a pair of top-10 prospects within the Atlanta Braves organization according to Baseball America, in right-handed pitchers Jason Hursh (#4) and Tyrell Jenkins (#7). Offensively the Braves have swung the bats well putting together the league’s second-best batting average (.263), but have struggled to provide power, belting a league-worst 10 home runs and only a total of 64 extra base hits on the season. Individually, outfielder Mallex Smith enters play with the fifth-best B.A. (.323) in the league while Ryan Kelly has solidified the back end of the bullpen nailing down nine saves in 10 tries this season. Players swinging a hot bat of late include KD Kang batting .346 over his last ten and Corban Joesph manufacturing a .391 average with five RBI in his last 10 contests.
Tonight’s pitching matchup will feature right-hander Kendry Flores for the Suns to be opposed by Braves righty Jason Hursh. Flores has worked his best stretch of the year in his last three starts. The native of the Dominican Republic was elected as the Southern League ‘Pitcher of the Week’ on 5/11, after working a pair of stellar outings against Chattanooga and Mobile allowing only one run over 14 innings pitched. In his last start against Pensacola, he provided an encore performance generating seven scoreless frames in a no decision. The trio of impressive performances has earned Flores the league’s eighth-best ERA. The former free-agent signee of the San Francisco Giants is the only Sun that is a member of the Miami Marlins 40-man roster.
Hursh takes the ball 1-3 with an inflated 7.02 earned run mark. The Oklahoma State University product picked up a win in his last start against Pensacola on 5/16, after generating six scoreless frames. He’s the 4th ranked prospect within the Braves organization entering 2015 according to Baseball America, garnering high expectations as a former first-round pick in the 2013 draft. Last year in double-A ball with Mississippi, Hursh tallied 11 wins accompanied with a 3.58 ERA in 26 starts.
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 6:50 p.m. ET on the Suns Baseball Network.
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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 (15-24) @ Mississippi Braves (21-18)
Starters: JAX: RHP Kendry Flores (2-3, 2.06 ERA) vs. MIS: Jason Hursh (1-3, 7.02 ERA)
Who’s Hot: Ryan Rieger is coming off a performance against Biloxi on 5/19 where he blasted the club’s first grand slam and his first home run of the year. Carlos Lopez had his 13-game hitting streak snapped on 5/18, but is still 12-for-37 (.324) in his last 10. Viosergy Rosa is batting .304 in his last 10 contests with a home run and five RBI. Zack Cox continues to raise his average to hover around .300 batting .298 and finishing the Biloxi series 4-for-14 with a RBI and four runs scored.
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 eighth-best ERA (2.06) in the Southern League. Starter Jake Esch controls the league’s 9th best ERA (2.55). Closer Sean Donatello sits first in saves (10) in the S.L. As a team Jacksonville has worked to only the league’s ninth-best batting average (.236) and sit in the middle of the pack in the S.L. with the sixth-best ERA (3.93).