By Steve Kolbe
After scoring 31 runs in their previous three home games, the Suns were shut down by Pensacola lefty Tony Cingrani on Monday night in a 2-0 Pensacola victory. Cingrani and reliever Justin Freeman combined on a two-hitter, and the Suns had just six base runners in the game.
In a match up of Southern League Pitchers of the Week, Jose Alvarez for the Suns and Tony Cingrani for the Blue Wahoos, both needed just 20 pitches to breeze through the first two innings at the Baseball Grounds. Cingrani retired the first 10 batters he faced until Paul Gran singled in the fourth inning. Alvarez kept the Wahoos off balance and allowed just a single through four innings before leaving the game with an injury.
Pensacola scored the only runs of the game in the sixth inning against Suns reliever Alan Oaks. Pensacola pitcher Tony Cingrani helped his own cause when he led off with a single to left. Brodie Greene was then hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. Didi Gregorius ripped a single to right field, with Cingrani racing around from second to score and give the Blue Wahoos a 1-0 lead. Brian Peacock then drove in Gregorius with and infield single, and the 2-0 advantage was more than enough for Cingrani. Pensacola improved to 30-0 this season when leading after the eighth inning.
Jose Alvarez left the game with an injury after pitching four innings of one-hit ball. Alan Oaks (1-1) allowed two runs on three hits over three innings in the loss. Tony Cingrani (3-1) allowed just two singles in six and two-thirds innings and struck out nine. He set a team record with 15 strikeouts in his last start against the Jackson Generals. Justin Freeman closed out the game, fanning four batters in his two and a-third innings to earn his fifth save of the season. For the Suns it was unlucky 13, with Jacksonville hitter striking out 13 times in the game, 12 times swinging. Donnie Webb was the only player called out on strikes, and that ended the game.
The Suns were shut out for the eighth time this year, with six of the white washes coming at the Baseball Grounds. The Suns have been blanked five times in the last 21 games. It was the first shutout for Pensacola in the season series. This season the Suns have been on the wrong side of three dominant pitching performances. Including Pensacola’s Tony Cingrani of the Blue Wahoos, three teams have tossed a two-hitter or a one-hitter at the Baseball Grounds. Chattanooga’s Aaron Miller and two relievers combined on a one-hitter April 12 in a 1-0 Lookouts win. Jackson’s Danny Hultzen and Carter Capps pitched a two-hitter June 8 in a 2-0 Generals victory.
Chris Gutierrez and Paul Gran were the only players with hits for Jacksonville. The Blue Wahoos had five players with a single each in the game. The Suns lead the season series 13-9 (6-6 at home, 7-3 on the road). The Suns have won three of the four series this season against the Blue Wahoos.
The Suns will look to win the season series by taking the finale of the three game set on Tuesday night. RHP Bryan Evans (2-5, 3.38) will take the mound for the Suns. RHP Kyle Lotzkar (4-3, 4.21) gets the start for the Blue Wahoos. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EST.