Smokies rally past Suns, 5-3

NAPA Family Fireworks Friday kicked off Independence Day Weekend at the Baseball Grounds

By Marco LaNave / Jacksonville Suns | July 1, 2016 10:43 PM ET

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Left-hander Eric Jokisch pitched four scoreless innings in his Jacksonville Suns debut against his former team, but the Tennessee Smokies rallied to score five runs over the next three innings for a 5-3 win in front of 5,619 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville Friday night.

Making his first Southern League appearance since pitching for the Smokies from 2011 to 2013 as a Chicago Cubs minor leaguer, Jokisch struck out five of the first eight batters and only allowed one runner to reach second base. Meanwhile, the Suns (2-6 second half, 32-46 overall) took the game's first lead in the third inning, when left fielder Austin Dean launched his team-high ninth home run to the left-field berm for a 1-0 lead against right-hander Paul Blackburn (6-2).

The Smokies (6-2, 34-44) tied the game in the fifth inning. A pitch by Suns left-hander Tim Berry (0-3) hit shortstop Daniel Lockhart, who went to second base on a passed ball by catcher Cam Maron, to third base on a groundout by Blackburn, and scored on third baseman Chesny Young's RBI single. Jacksonville took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Dean doubled to left field and scored after consecutive groundouts by second baseman J.T. Riddle and center fielder Alex Glenn.

In the top of the sixth inning, Berry hit catcher Victor Caratini with a pitch and walked right fielder Billy McKinney. First baseman Gioskar Amaya then doubled to right field, scoring Caratini. Right fielder Ronnie Mitchell threw past second base, allowing McKinney to score the go-ahead run, before Dean threw out Amaya at home plate. The Smokies extended the lead in the seventh inning, as left fielder Trey Martin hit a leadoff triple to right-center field before scoring on center fielder Jacob Hannemann's RBI double off the right-field wall. Hannemann later scored on McKinney's RBI fielder's choice.

Trailing 5-2, the Suns fought back against right-hander Stephen Perakslis in the seventh inning, as Mitchell singled to center field and later scored on Glenn's infield single. Perakslis stranded the tying runs on base, and right-hander James Farris worked around two hits and a walk for a two-inning save - his first of the season - that gave Tennessee its fifth straight win. Suns right-hander Drew Steckenrider pitched a season-long 2 2/3 scoreless innings to finish the game.

UP NEXT: The Suns continue their series with Tennessee at 6:05 p.m. Saturday, when left-hander Matt Tomshaw (0-1) is scheduled to face Smokies right-hander Brad Markey (5-3). Gates open at 5 p.m. for the Patriotic Bucket Giveaway for the first 1,000 fans. Dapper Day will feature vintage fashion from the '20s, '30s, '40s, and '50s.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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