By Steve Kolbe
In the first-ever meeting between Jacksonville and Pensacola, the game was decided in the ninth inning with the Blue Wahoos winning 2-1 over the Suns
With the bases loaded in the home half of the ninth and two outs, clean up hitter Joel Guzman stepped to the plate to face Suns relief pitcher A.J. Ramos. Guzman played in Jacksonville and was part of the 2005 Championship and led the Suns in home runs and RBI’s that year, but on Sunday with the game on the line he never swung the bat and walked on four pitches to force in the game-winning run.
In the fifth inning the Blue Wahoos took a 1-0 lead when Henry Rodriguez hit a home run over the left field wall off of Suns pitcher Bobby Bramhall. A blast that left the park in spite of a strong wind blowing in from that direction. Rodriguez hit the first-ever home run in Pensacola history on Opening Day against Montgomery.
The Suns tied the game 1-1 in the top of the sixth when Kyle Skipworth led off the inning with a double to the wall in right field. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, Skipworth came in to score on a single by Jeff Dominguez. Skipworth finished the day 1-for-3 and now has a hit in each of his last three games in the starting lineup. Dominguez went 1-for-4 and Jake Smolinski finished 2-for-4. Smolinski led off the game with a double for the second straight day.
Last season Jacksonville won 36 road games, fourth-most in the Southern League. Only Chattanooga(41), Tennessee(39), and Mobile(37) had more wins away from home.
The three combined runs were the fewest in a game in the brief history of Maritime Park. With the loss Jacksonville drops to 4-7, while Pensacola improves to 7-4 with the victory. The Blue Wahoos have been outscored 25-24 in their six home games this season, but have won five times.
Pedro Villarreal started for Pensacola and pitched six innings, allowing five hits and just one run. It was the second straight start that Villarreal allowed just one run and didn’t record the win. Donnie Joseph earned his second win of the season, pitching two innings of scoreless baseball. He hasn’t allowed a run in five appearance this season. Edgar Olmos made his Double-A debut for the Suns. He pitched four innings and allowed just one hit. Olmos struck out one and walked eight Blue Wahoos batters. Wade Korpi suffered his first loss of the season. He pitched one and two-thirds innings, allowing three singles, and left the game with the bases loaded in the ninth.
The Suns are 0-6 this season when they allow the first run, the Blue Wahoos are 5-1 when they cross the plate first. Both teams combined to go 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position, and also combined to strand 19 base runners with Pensacola leaving a dozen on base.
Game two of the series is Monday with a match up of right-handers. Bryan Evans is scheduled to take the mound for Jacksonville against Pensacola’s Curtis Partch.