By: Kyle Crooks / Jacksonville Suns
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Suns (15-25) used a three-run ninth inning rally to tie the score but fell short in extras to the Mississippi Braves (22-18) 8-7 Thursday night from Bragan Field.
Hear from Suns manager David Berg postgame:
Francisco Rondon (W, 2-0) earned the victory in relief for Mississippi in one inning of work allowing three runs (none earned) on two hits while walking a batter and striking out one. Sean Donatello (L, 0-2) took the loss out of the bullpen for the Suns generating two innings allowing five runs (three earned) on five hits while walking a pair of batters.
The scoring would begin in the bottom of the first when the Suns had runners on the corners with nobody out courtesy of a Carlos Lopez lead off double, and Kenny Wilson reaching on an error by the first baseman Kevin Aherns. Next batter Austin Nola, would scratch across the first run on a double play ball giving Jacksonville a 1-0 lead through one frame.
In the third the Braves tied the score after Mallex Smith worked a two-out walk to then move into scoring position after a Kendry Flores throwing error. Next batter Corban Joesph brought him home on a run-scoring base hit.
In the last of the third Nola put the Suns on top via a RBI base hit plating Carlos Lopez who lead off the frame with a double. Jacksonville would lead 2-1 through three innings of play at Bragan Field.
The Suns lead would not last long, as in the top of the fifth Mallex Smith ripped a RBI double to score Matt Kennelly and knot up the contest at a 2-2 score.
The Braves broke the tie in the eighth frame after Smith reached first on a bunt single to then steal second and set up KD Kong for the go-ahead RBI single giving Mississippi the slim 3-2 advantage.
In the bottom of the eighth, against Braves reliever Bryton Trepagnier, Matt Juengel would ground into an inning ending double play with the bases loaded in a pinch hit appearance to end any further threat with the Suns still trailing by one.
In the ninth with the bases loaded Corban Joesph provided insurance for Mississippi off of Suns reliever Sean Donatello with a two RBI single to give the Braves 5-2 lead.
In the bottom half of the frame the Suns tied the score after generating the bases loaded. A fielding error by Braves centerfielder Mallex Smith, on a Ryan Rieger fly ball, cleared the bases and tied the score at five.
Moving to the 10th, Emerson Landoni put Mississippi back in front with a run-scoring single to put his squad up 6-5. The critical hit came from Eric Garcia in the same stanza when his two-run double gave the Braves the necessary insurance and a 8-5 lead.
Jacksonville would not go quietly in the bottom of the 10th after Nola’s two RBI double trimmed the deficit to a run in the 8-7 Jacksonville loss.
Suns starter Kendry Flores lasted seven innings allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits while walking two and striking out a pair of batters.
The Suns and Braves will continue their series Friday night with a first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. ET from Bragan Field. The Suns will send out right-hander Jake Esch (3-2 2.55 ERA) while the Braves will counter with righty Tyrell Jenkins (2-2, 3.00 ERA).
Friday is Family Faith Night with a post-game concert with Chris August, Blood Alliance Blood Drive & NAPA Friday Family Fireworks! It’s a Night of Faith, Fellowship and our National Pastime with a post-game concert with Award Winning Christian Artist Chris August, courtesy of Bug Out & The Promise! The Blood Alliance Bloodmobile will be at Bragan Field and the Suns encourage all fans to donate blood! The first 25 donors receive 2 tickets to the game plus a hot dog and soda voucher! Also check out the hottest rides from your Southern Ford Dealers which will be on hand. Stay after the game and before the concert as we light up the skies with the NAPA Friday Family Fireworks, presented by your local NAPA AutoCare center dealers!
Suns fans can also listen to Friday’s game on the Suns Baseball Network, 100.3 FM or 600 AM “The Answer” or through http://www.jaxsuns.com, MiLB.com, or the TuneIn radio app, coverage will start with the Memorial Hospital Suns Pregame Show beginning at 6:50 p.m. ET
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.
Here are highlights from tonight’s contest: