By: Kyle Crooks / Jacksonville Suns
The Jacksonville Suns (29-36) will look to play spoiler against the Chattanooga Lookouts (39-25) who look to clinch a Southern League North Division title tonight in a victory and first pitch will be slated for 7:15 p.m. ET from AT&T Field.
In the eight-run rally put together by the Suns in the seventh inning of an 8-4 win, Matt Juengel provided the second grand slam home run of the year for Jacksonville. The only other deep fly with the bases loaded came off the bat of Ryan Rieger against Biloxi Shuckers’ reliever Jaye Chapman on 5/19, in what turned out to be a 7-6 Suns loss.
Blake Logan (W, 3-1) twirled a scoreless and hitless one and two-thirds innings while not walking a batter and striking out two out of the bullpen for Jacksonville. Nick Burdi (BS, 2) (L, 3-4) did not retire a Sun allowing five runs (all earned) on three hits while walking two and not striking out a batter in the loss for Chattanooga.
The scoring would begin in the bottom of the second when Max Kepler led off the frame with a triple to set up 90-feet away from home. Next batter Adam Brett Walker grounded a RBI single into right to leap the Lookouts to a 1-0 advantage. After a double by Mike Gonzales, two men were in scoring position for Stuart Turner’s run-scoring groundout that made the tally 2-0. To the last of the fifth, and Niko Goodrum ripped a double to right field to set up in scoring position with one out. Two batters later Goodrum was knocked home courtesy of Kepler’s RBI single to give the Lookouts a 3-0 edge.
In the seventh inning, back-to-back base hits by Matt Juengel and David Adams set a pair of runners on base and also chased Lookouts starter Brett Lee from the ballgame. With reliever Nick Burdi now in the game, the Suns would get a run-scoring double by Terrence Dayleg, and a RBI infield single from Chadd Krist to tie the score at three. The bases now loaded, and Austin Nola worked a walk to bring in the go-ahead run and jump Jacksonville ahead 4-3. Then Juengel’s (HR, 12) grand slam off of Lookouts bullpen arm Jake Reed, jolted the Suns ahead 8-3 to complete Jacksonville’s eight spot in the frame. In the bottom of the ninth the Lookouts got a solo run courtesy of a Kepler RBI single to make the final score of 8-4. Suns starter Matt Tomshaw lasted five and one-third innings allowing surrendering three runs (all earned) on seven hits while walking one and striking out four in a no decision. Out of the bullpen Craig Stem worked a scoreless eighth for Jacksonville. Juancito Martinez hurled the ninth in a non-save situation for the Suns and allowed one run (earned) on one hit.
Tonight’s pitching matchup will feature Jacksonville right-hander Jake Esch to be opposed by Chattanooga lefty David Hurlbut. Esch enters this start 5-3 with a 2.71 ERA in 11 starts with Jacksonville this year. He will be the Southern League South Division starter in the all-star game coming up on Tuesday, June 23rd. His last trip to the hill came on 6/12 against Tennessee, and he would earn the victory in six scoreless innings of work allowing only one hit while walking one and striking out six. In the month of June the Georgia Tech product has posted a 2-0 mark to go along with an ERA of 1.89 in 19 innings pitched. He was called up to triple-A New Orleans on 4/14, and made a pair of starts for the Zephyrs finishing 0-1 attached with a 5.23 ERA before being sent back down to Jacksonville on 4/23. He’s a former 11th round draft pick of the Marlins in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, and this represents his first year at the double-A level.
Hurlbut takes the ball 2-2 to go along with a 5.14 earned run mark in four starts with the Lookouts. The southpaw started the year with High-A Fort Myers where we would generate a 0-1 record while sporting a spotless ERA in two appearances and one start. His last time taking the ball came on 6/12 against Birmingham, and he would twirl seven scoreless frames in a winning decision allowing four hits while not walking a batter and striking out five. After being roughed up in his first two starts, he has responded by lasting at least seven innings in his last two trips to the mound. The 25-year old is a former 28th round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins organization in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Cal-State Fullerton.
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 (29-36) @ Chattanooga Lookouts (39-25)
Starters: CHA: LHP David Hurlbut (2-2, 5.14 ERA) vs. JAX: RHP Jake Esch (5-3, 2.71 ERA)
Who’s Hot: Carlos Lopez has hit safely in fifteen of his last seventeen games and during that stretch has manufactured a .328 average (21-for-64). Matt Juengel blasted his 12th home run of the season and Jacksonville’s second grand slam of the year in last night’s win. The right-handed slugger is hitting .344 in his last 10 games with three home runs and ten RBI.
Suns Spots: Here’s a note from the official Jacksonville Suns game notes:
-Closer Sean Donatello is first in saves (14) in the Southern League. Zack Cox rests sixth in batting average (.317) and fifth in on-base percentage (.403). Matt Juengel sits in third for extra base hits (26), home runs (12), and RBI (39) while resting fifth in total bases (113). Viosergy Rosa sits tied for third in walks generated (36). Jake Esch is fifth in fewest baserunners/9IP (9.90) while controlling the tenth-best ERA (2.71). Austin Nola is tied for second in games played (63).