JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville Suns right-handers Patrick Johnson and Drew Steckenrider combined for a seven-inning, 1-0, one-hit shutout in Game 1, before Pensacola Blue Wahoos third baseman Taylor Sparks hit a 10th-inning home run for a 7-6 Game 2 win in front of 3,268 for a doubleheader at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville Sunday afternoon.
In Game 1, Johnson (5-5) kept Pensacola (12-12 second half, 53-41 overall) without a hit for the first 3 2/3 innings and notched career-high eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 scoreless innings. He allowed the only Blue Wahoos hit on shortstop Zach Vincej's fourth-inning single. Johnson also worked around a walk in the first, third and sixth innings, escaping the final one when catcher Francisco Arcia threw out Pensacola left fielder Phillip Ervin trying to steal third base. After Johnson struck out Sparks for the second out of the sixth inning, Steckenrider entered to record the final four outs for his fifth save.
The Suns (12-12, 42-52) scored the only run of Game 1 in the first inning against Blue Wahoos right-hander Jackson Stephens (6-8). With one out, left fielder Austin Dean walked, center fielder Alex Glenn doubled to right-center field, and right fielder Moises Sierra walked to load the bases. Stephens then hit third baseman Brian Anderson to force in Dean.
In Game 2, Pensacola opened a 4-0 lead in the first inning against Suns left-hander Matt Tomshaw. Second baseman Brandon Dixon and Vincej hit RBI singles, and first baseman Ray Chang added a two-run double. In the bottom of the first inning against Pensacola right-hander Sal Romano, Sierra hit an RBI double, and Anderson hit a two-run home run to cut the deficit to 4-3. Pensacola added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to make it 6-3.
The Suns came back with two runs in the sixth inning on first baseman Chris Curley's bases-loaded infield single and two errors by Pensacola, but shortstop Peter Mooney was thrown out as the tying run at home plate. Sierra hit the game-tying sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. Sparks' leadoff home run against right-hander Tyler Higgins (2-4) in the 10th inning earned a win for right-hander Jake Ehret (1-0), and right-hander Carlos Gonzalez picked up his sixth save.
UP NEXT: The Suns conclude their series with Pensacola at 7:05 p.m. Monday, when Suns right-hander Jake Esch (9-6) is scheduled to face Blue Wahoos right-hander Nick Travieso (4-5). Gates open at 6 p.m. for VyStar Credit Union Charity Begins at Home, which will include the Launch-A-Ball promotion benefitting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida. It is also First Coast News Night and a Marlins Monday, when fans can enter for a chance to win tickets to see the Miami Marlins. Beauty and the Beast Night will include an appearance by Belle at the ballpark.
ABOUT THE SUNS: The Jacksonville Suns are beginning a new era of affordable family fun under new ownership in 2016. With a FUNdamentally Different promotional schedule and a new lineup of ticket and group options for this season, there is a reason for everyone to get part of the action by calling the Suns at (904) 358-2846 or visiting www.jaxsuns.com.