By Steve Kolbe
The Jacksonville Suns won their season-high fourth straight game with a 4-3 victory over the Blue Wahoos on Thursday night. The Suns won four of the five games in their first-ever trip to Pensacola.
The Suns jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning against the Wahoos. Pensacola starter J.C. Sulbaran didn’t have his control early on. He hit Paul Gran in the back with the first pitch of the game, followed by singles from Chris Gutierrez and Shawn Bowman to load the bases with no outs. Kyle Jensen drove in a run with a ground out, and the second run scored on a throwing error by second baseman Brodie Greene. The Suns have now scored the first run in eight of their last 10 games and are 8-1 this season when crossing the plate before their opponent. Last season Jacksonville finished 47-23 when they scored the game’s first run..
Pensacola scored a run in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead into the lead to make it 2-1 when Didi Gregorius extended his hit streak to eight games with a leadoff single. He was driven in by a sacrifice fly by Henry Rodriguez. The leadoff batter for the Blue Wahoos reached base six times in the game and came in to score all three of their runs on the night.
The Blue Wahoos tied the game 2-2 in the bottom of the second against Suns starter Omar Poveda. Brodie Greene led off with a single, and scored when Yordanys Perez doubled to right field to drive in his fifth run of the season. Perez was thrown out at third trying to stretch play into a triple.
In the top of the third, Kyle Skipworth sent a ball sailing to the beach. He hit a towering solo home run that went over the center field lawn and seats to give the Suns a 3-2 lead. It was estimated that the home run went about 430 feet. It was Skipworth’s third homer of the year and second in as many nights. However, it’s the first home run that the Sun’s catcher has ever hit into a bay. Ryan Patterson added solo home run in the fourth and the Suns had doubled the lead to 4-2. Skipworth now has a five game hitting streak. Patterson now has two home runs this year.
The Wahoos inched closer by scoring a single run in the bottom of the fourth to make it 4-3. Joel Guzman lined a single into center and took second on a wild pitch by Poveda. Mark Fleury then drove him in with a single. Pensacola would threaten in the eighth and ninth but came away empty. In the game, the Blue Wahoos had at least one runner on base in every inning except the sixth.
After being forced to leave his last start after just three innings when he was hit in the ankle by a line drive, Omar Poveda earned his second win of the season. He pitched five innings, allowing eight hits and three runs. The losing pitcher was J.C. Sulbaran. He pitched six innings and allowed four runs while striking out 11. Sulbaran recorded 155 strikeouts during the 2011 season with Bakersfield, a total that was fourth-most in the Reds system. Bobby Bramhall and Josh Schmidt combined to pitch three scoreless innings while striking out four Wahoos hitters. With his eighth appearance, Schmidt is now tied for the league lead among pitchers. A.J. Ramos pitched the ninth for his first save of the year. He’s given up just one hit to the 26 batters that he has faced this season.
Jacksonville travels to Mobile for the first of a five game series against the defending Southern League Champions starting Friday night