By: Kyle Crooks / Jacksonville Suns
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Suns (27-33) topped the Tennessee Smokies (32-28) 5-2 in the series opener Thursday night from Bragan Field.
Brian Ellington (W, 4-1) lasted one and two-thirds scoreless and hitless innings while not walking a batter and striking out two. Michael Wagner (L, 0-1) took the loss in relief for the Smokies after two and two-thirds innings in which he allowed two runs (both earned) on four hits while not walking a batter and striking out three. Juancito Martinez (S, 3) earned his third save of the year after tossing a scoreless ninth while walking one and striking out a solo batter for Jacksonville.
The scoring would begin in the in the last of the fourth, when the Suns manufactured a walk and a single to put two runners on for Danny Black against Tennessee reliever Andres Santiago. Black then provided a single off the glove of Smokies second baseman Stephen Bruno, which scored Cox, and gave the Suns a 1-0 edge. With Kenny Wilson at the plate, a wild pitch from Santiago, and a throwing error from Smokies catcher Kyle Schwarber, allowed a run to score and create a 2-0 cushion for Jacksonville.
In the top of the seventh frame, Tennessee got to Suns starter Tomshaw after he relinquished a pair of singles, then to allow a run-scoring base knock to Bijan Rademacher that trimmed the Suns edge to 2-1. In the same frame, and Suns reliever Brian Ellington on the mound, Elliot Soto laid down a squeeze bunt to score the tying run from third.
To the bottom of the eighth and Viosergy Rosa led off with a double, to set up in scoring position for Matt Juengel’s RBI single that pushed Jacksonville back in front 3-2. Against Smokies bullpen arm Gerardo Concepcion, the Suns manufactured a trio of singles to load the bases for Wilson. Wilson would then generate a walk to bring in a run and extend Jacksonville’s scoreboard advantage to 4-2. With the bases still loaded, Carlos Lopez laid down a bunt that was bobbled by Smokies third baseman Wes Darvill that sent home the Suns fifth run.
Matt Tomshaw in his start for Jacksonville worked six and one-third frames for the Suns, allowing two runs (one earned) on eight hits while walking one and striking out two. Smokies starter Pierce Johnson provided three scoreless frames of work relinquishing one walk while striking out two.
The Suns and Smokies will continue their series Friday night from Bragan Field with a first pitch slated for 7:05 p.m. ET. The Suns will send out righty Jake Esch (4-3, 2.98 ERA) while the Smokies will counter with right-hander Frank Batista (6-1, 1.49 ERA).
Join us on Friday as we strike out ALS with ALS Awareness Night, Suns Lanyard Giveaway, Elvis Himselvis, Pet Friendly Weekend, Blood Alliance Blood Drive & NAPA Friday Family Fireworks! It’s ALS Awareness Night at the Baseball Grounds and join us as we raise funds and awareness in support of the ALS Association as we Strike Out ALS, sponsored by Sawyer Gas! Plus all kids get a Suns Lanyard and don’t miss an encore performance from Elvis Himselvis who will perform your favorite Elvis songs during the game, courtesy of Process Master & 95.1 WAPE! The Blood Alliance Bloodmobile will be on hand 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! It’s our pet friendly weekend at Bragan Field and all dogs get in for just $2.50 courtesy of Pedigree! Stay after the game 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 & 600 AM “The Answer” or through http://www.jaxsuns.com, MiLB.com, or the TuneIn radio app, coverage will start 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: