MOBILE, Ala. - Mike Freeman hit a two-out, walk off RBI double in the bottom of the 9th inning to hand the Jacksonville Suns (6-4, 40-37) a 1-0 loss at the hands of the Mobile BayBears at Hank Aaron Stadium.
Both Jacksonville and Mobile, bolstered by supreme pitching performances from Henderson Alvarez and David Holmberg, respectively, remained scoreless into the ninth. But Mobile mounted a two-out rally against Suns reliever Grant Dayton in the final frame, and Freeman's game-winning hit gave the BayBears a series victory in the rubber match of the series.
The story of the night for the Suns, however, was Alvarez. The right-hander, making his second Major League rehab start for Jacksonville, was just as masterful as he had been in his first outing at Bragan Field. Alvarez tossed seven and two thirds scoreless frames and allowed no runs on just two hits, striking out seven.
Alvarez also exercised great control. He did not allow a walk and threw just 86 pitches over his seven and two thirds innings. Of the 86 offerings, 59 passed through the strike zone.
Unfortunately for Jacksonville, Holmberg was just as proficient on the mound for the victorious BayBears. The left-hander matched Alvarez pitch for pitch, throwing eight spotless innings with eight strikeouts and just two walks. Holmberg scattered four hits before giving way to reliever Jake Barrett (1-0).
With the left-hander Dayton in the game for the bottom of the ninth, the BayBears finally broke through. Dayton retired the first two hitters in the inning, but issued a crucial walk to Nich Ahmed. Freeman came up next and blasted a pitch over the head of center fielder Jake Marisnick, scoring Ahmed and dealing the Suns a tough loss to conclude the series.
The Suns did not have a player with a multi-hit game for the third consecutive contest.
Jacksonville now returns home for a five-game series and home stand against their division rivals, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The series will begin Saturday with right-hander Robert Morey on the mound for the Suns, seeking his fourth win of the season. Morey (3-4, 4.73) will face off against right-hander Chad Rogers (3-2, 2.09) in the opener, scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Suns fans can listen to Saturday's game on the Suns Baseball Network, 94.1 WSOS-FM or through jaxsuns.com, MiLB.com or the Suns iPhone or Android app, beginning at 6:50 p.m. ET with the UF Health Suns Pre-Game Show. The game will also be televised on the CW 17 in Jacksonville, with the voice of the Suns Roger Hoover and team president Peter Bragan Jr. on the call.
Saturday, the home stand kicks off with Chipper Jones Bolles Bobblehead Giveaway, Blood Drive & Steak Me out to the Ballgame. Fans should be sure to arrive early, as the first 3,000 fans will get a bobblehead of hometown hero Chipper Jones in his Bolles Uniform courtesy of State Farm, CW17, 1010XL & 92.5 FM.
The Blood Alliance Bloodmobile will also be at Bragan Field and the Suns encourage all fans to donate blood. The first 25 donors receive two tickets to the game, a hot dog and soda voucher and a special Suns gift. Fans may also enjoy Steak Me Out to the Ballgame. Fans receive a tender 8 oz. bacon-wrapped filet mignon, baked potato, salad, non-alcoholic beverage and general admission to the game for only $25.