Jacksonville Sports Day

SUNS: Esch Dominant in Six Innings of Work

PEARL, Miss. – The Jacksonville Suns (22-24) defeated the Mississippi Braves (20-27) by a 5-3 score at Trustmark Park in the second game of the five game series on Thursday night.

Jacksonville starting pitcher Jake Esch (6-4) earned the win with six innings of work, allowing only a run on two hits with three walks, and he tied his Double-A career-high with eight strikeouts.

Braves starter Chris Ellis (6-2) took the loss, allowing three runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts in his seven innings. Suns reliever Sean Donatello earned his third save of the year by getting the final outs in the ninth inning.

After the first two innings were scoreless, Jacksonville’s Jeremias Pineda led off the top of the third with a double. A sacrifice bunt by Esch moved him to third, then Yefri Perez brought him home on a sacrifice fly to give Jacksonville a 1-0 lead. The Suns led 1-0 until the top of the sixth, when J.T. Riddle had a two-RBI triple to put the advantage at 3-0 Suns.

Esch did not allow a hit through the first five and two-third innings, but his no-hit bid ended when Dansby Swanson hit a two-out single in the bottom of the sixth. He was quickly brought home on an RBI double by Dustin Peterson that put the score at 3-1. The Braves added a run in the bottom of the seventh off Suns reliever Raudel Lazo to make it a 3-2 game.

Moises Sierra led off the ninth with a single for the Suns, extending his hitting streak to a season-best seven games. After the Suns loaded the bases, a wild pitch from Braves reliever Steve Kent scored Sierra to make it 4-2, and a Francisco Arcia sacrifice fly scored Chris Curley to give the Suns a 5-2 lead going to the bottom of the ninth. Mississippi did score a run off Donatello in the ninth on a Levi Hyams pinch-hit RBI single, but Donatello retired Swanson on a deep fly out to centerfield to end the game.

The Suns and Braves will continue their series with the third game of the five-game set at Trustmark Park tonight at 8 p.m. ET. The Suns will start right-hander Austin Brice (3-2, 1.99 ERA) against Mississippi left-hander Sean Newcomb (1-2, 3.91 ERA).

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