Kyle Crooks / Jacksonville Suns
The Jacksonville Suns (20-31) will look to their right-handed starter Austin Brice against the Montgomery Biscuits (24-27) this afternoon with a first pitch set for 1:05 p.m. ET from Bragan Field.
The Suns snapped a three-game losing streak last night, and tied the series at a game apiece after a stellar start from Jake Esch.
Jake Esch (W, 4-3) hurled seven scoreless frames for Jacksonville surrendering five hits while walking a pair of batters and striking out five. Bradin Hagens (L, 3-5) worked the seventh inning and relinquished two runs (both earned) on Danny Black’s two-run double while walking one and striking out a batter. Sean Donatello (S, 13) bounced back with his Southern League leading 13th save of the year after a pair of blown saves in the Birmingham series. Donatello entered with two outs in the ninth in relief of Brian Ellington, and got Joey Rickard to ground out to end the ballgame.
This game would remain scoreless until Jacksonville mounted a rally in the bottom of the eighth against Biscuits reliever Bradin Hagens. Viosergy Rosa led off the frame with a hit by pitch, then two batters later, David Adams manufactured a walk to put two runners on with two outs. Black would then cash in with a two RBI double to right centerfield that plated both Rosa and Adams and leaped the Suns out to a 2-0 lead. To the last of the eighth, and Jacksonville picked up insurance off of Montgomery reliever Bryce Stowell. Kenny Wilson started the frame with a single and a stolen base to set up shop in scoring position. Then one batter later Austin Nola’s RBI single sent home Wilson to provide the Suns a 3-0 scoreboard advantage with Nola moving to second on the throw to the plate. Nola now 90-feet away for major league rehabber Jeff Mathis, the Marlins catcher would then line a run-scoring base knock that scored Nola and extended the lead to 4-0 through eight innings at Bragan Field.
To the top of the ninth and the Biscuits worked two men on base against Jacksonville reliever Brian Ellington. Justin O’Conner got his squad on the board after his RBI double trimmed the Suns lead to 4-1. Ellington lasted an inning and two-thirds for the Suns in relief allowing a solo run (earned) on a pair of hits while walking one and striking out four. Jared Mortensen in his start for the Biscuits lasted a strong six innings allowing five hits while not walking a batter and striking out seven.
Today’s pitching matchup will feature right-hander Austin Brice taking the ball for Jacksonville to be opposed by Montgomery righty Jaime Schultz. Brice earned his second career double-A victory in his last start against Birmingham on 5/29. The right-hander provided his longest start of the year lasting six frames surrendering two runs (both earned) on four hits while not walking a batter and striking out six. In the month of May, Brice finished 2-2 with a 8.61 ERA in five starts while posting 15 walks opposed to 17 strikeouts. The Marlins 29th ranked prospect has one start against the Biscuits in which he allowed six runs (all earned) in 4 and one-third innings pitched while taking a losing decision.
Schultz takes the ball 3-3 with a 3.33 earned run mark. The former 14th round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013, is coming off a pair of losing decisions in his last two starts. In his last start against Jackson on 5/27, Schultz was roughed up for six runs (all earned) on eight hits while walking four and striking out six. The native of Albany, New York earned ‘Pitcher of the Week’ honors in the Southern League on 4/27, after a pair of starts that saw him last six frames in which he would allow only one run against Mobile and Jackson combined. Schultz went four innings in his start against Jacksonville on 4/15 surrendering one run (earned) on three hits in a no decision.
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 12:50 p.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: Montgomery Biscuits (24-27) @ Jacksonville Suns (20-31)
Starters: MTG: RHP Jaime Schultz (4-3, 3.33 ERA) vs. JAX: RHP Austin Brice (2-4, 7.71 ERA)
Who’s Hot: Major-league rehabber Jeff Mathis has been hot at the plate in this series hitting 4-for-8 (.500) with a RBI. Kenny Wilson has followed up his strong series in Birmingham with a pair of multi-hit games, and he now possesses a seven-game hit streak. The Suns centerfielder is now hitting .326 over his last 10 games. Zack Cox over his last 10 games has posted a .500 average, which has helped catapult him to control the S.L.’s fifth best B.A. (.329).
Suns Spots: Here’s a note from the official Jacksonville Suns game notes:
-Closer Sean Donatello is first in saves (13) and has the fifth-best BB/9 ratio (1.85) in the Southern League. Starter Jake Esch now controls the sixth-best ERA (2.65) in the S.L. Zack Cox rests third in batting average (.329) and fourth in on-base percentage (.413). Viosergy Rosa has generated 28 walks, which is good enough for fifth-best in the ten-team league.