By: Kyle Crooks / Jacksonville Suns
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The Jacksonville Suns (29-37) fell 8-6 to the Chattanooga Lookouts (40-25) in their Southern League North Division clinching victory Thursday night from AT&T Field.
Hear from Suns manager David Berg postgame:
Chattanooga starter David Hurlbut (W, 3-2) worked seven frames surrendering three runs (two earned) on five hits while walking one and striking out four. Suns starter Jake Esch (L, 5-4) lasted two and two-thirds surrendering eight runs (all earned) on seven hits (two home runs) while walking three and striking out two.
The scoring would begin in the top of the first when Kenny Wilson led off the frame with a double, and then Carlos Lopez would provide a bunt single to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Austin Nola then bounced into a double play that would score Wilson and make the tally 1-0 in Jacksonville’s favor.
Chattanooga would respond with a four spot in the bottom of the first. With runners on the corners, Max Kepler’s RBI single quickly tied the score at one. Chattanooga still threatening with a pair of runners on, Travis Harrison belted a two-run double that pushed the Lookouts ahead 3-1. To round out the scoring, a wild pitch placed Harrison at third, and he would be sent home courtesy of a Mike Gonzalez RBI groundout to push the scoreboard edge to 4-1.
Flashing ahead to the bottom of the third Stephen Wickens (HR, 1) blasted a solo shot over the left field wall that pushed Chattanooga ahead 5-1. Still threatening in the frame, the Lookouts placed runners on the corners via a Kepler triple and a walk to Harrison. A sacrifice fly for Mike Gonzalez brought in Kepler and pushed the score to 6-1. Next batter, Adam Brett Walker (HR, 18) then blasted a two-run shot off of Suns starter Esch that pushed his squad in front 8-1.
To the top of the fourth and Matt Juengel (HR, 13) blasted a solo home run to trim the Suns deficit to 8-2.
In the first of the sixth, a lead off walk by Carlos Lopez, and a fielding error by Lookouts right fielder Travis Harrison on a Nola fly ball, placed a pair of runners in scoring position. A sacrifice fly from Juengel provided a run as Lopez scored and made it an 8-3 ballgame.
In the top of eighth a Lopez RBI single sent home Wilson and made it an 8-4 contest. With the bases now loaded, Juengel lifted a RBI sacrifice fly to make the deficit 8-5.
A RBI double by Carlos Lopez in the ninth would trim Jacksonville a bit closer to create the final score of 8-6.
Brian Ellington tossed two and a third scoreless innings out of the bullpen for Jacksonville. Scott McGough worked a pair of scoreless frames surrendering only a solo hit. Bullpen arm Chipper Smith tossed a scoreless eighth.
Michael Morse in a rehab start for Miami finished 0-for-3 at the plate with two strikeouts and a walk.
The Suns and Lookouts will square off once again Friday night from AT&T Field with a first pitch slated for 7:15 p.m. ET. The Suns will send out righty Austin Brice (2-5, 6.59 ERA) while the Lookouts will counter with right-hander Alex Wimmers (4-1, 4.84 ERA).
Suns fans can also listen to Friday’s game on the Suns Baseball Network, 600 AM & 100.3 FM “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 7:00 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: