When it comes to home runs, the Jacksonville Suns have been setting the pace in the Southern League this season. On Friday night, Mark Saccomanno got involved in a big way.
Saccomanno smacked a career-high three longballs and drove in five runs to power a historic effort by the Suns as they crushed the Carolina Mudcats, 13-4.
Jacksonville tied a league record with four first-inning homers. Ryan Curry and Osvaldo Martinez went back-to-back to open the frame before Saccomanno launched a two-run blast. Tim Torres went deep with two outs to equal the mark, set most recently by Mobile on April 24, 1998.
"The poor pitcher wasn't making bad pitches, we're a good hitting team. We've been dormant the past couple of weeks," Saccomanno said. "It's something that this team is capable of. We've got guys who can hit the ball out of the park in all spots of the lineup."
Saccomanno connected for a two-run shot in the fourth to extend Jacksonville's lead to 8-4. Mike Stanton -- who had a three-homer game against Carolina on April 26 -- added his Minor League-best 21st two innings later and Saccomanno cleared the left-field fence for another two-run blast in the eighth.
The seven homers tied the league's single-game record, set seven times, most recently by Knoxville on July 28, 1997.
"That's pretty impressive what we did, as a team," Saccomanno said. "Every once in a while, you play enough games you do something like this."
Saccomanno entered the game batting .216 with no homers against left-handed pitching but went deep twice against Mudcats starter Matt Fairel, a southpaw.
"I think it's just an approach, along with mechanics that I've been working on," Saccomanno said. "Righty or lefty, I try not to think about either one. It all boils down to pitch selection with me."
Saccomanno hadn't homered since May 14, a drought spanning 18 games. He credited the work he has done with Suns hitting coach Corey Hart for the explosion.
Stanton fell a double shy of the cycle, reaching base five times and scoring four runs.
Kyle Gunderson (1-0) picked up the win in relief, allowing one run on three hits and striking out two over three innings. Suns starter Jeff Allison gave up three runs on five hits in four frames.
Fairel (0-2) was charged with nine runs on 10 hits, including five homers, in five innings.