— The Jacksonville Suns (14-11, 48-44) withstood a late Tennessee Smokies (16-9, 50-44) rally to win game one of a five-game series at Smokies Park by a final score of 7-6.
Leading 7-1 into the bottom of the eighth inning, Jacksonville allowed Tennessee to score five runs in the frame to pull to within a run before the Suns’ bullpen finally stemmed the tide and held on for the win.
Mark Canha’s two-run double in the top of the third inning began the scoring for the Suns, and Ryan Fisher’s RBI groundout put Jacksonville ahead 3-0. The Smokies dented the scoreboard two innings later against Suns starter Robert Morey (4-6) on pinch-hitter Nate Samson’s RBI double.
It was the only mark against Morey, who surrendered the lone run on five hits over five innings of work. The Suns’ right-hander struck out five and walked one before handing the baseball to reliever Bryan Evans to begin the sixth.
The Suns added to their lead in the top half of the seventh, acquiring runs that would prove crucial later in the game. After a Smokies throwing error allowed Danny Black to score, Ryan Fisher drilled an RBI single to widen the lead. Audy Ciriaco added a two-run single, and when the dust cleared, Jacksonville led 7-1.
Against reliever Edgar Olmos, however, Tennessee stormed back in the bottom of the eighth. After a run-scoring groundout pulled the Smokies to within five, Rubi Silva tripled in a pair of runs, and another RBI groundout made it a 7-5 contest. Rafael Lopez then homered to shrink the Suns’ lead down to one.
Michael Brady calmed the waters for the Suns, pitching a scoreless bottom of the ninth inning to earn his 14th save and give the Suns the series-opening victory.
Christian Yelich was one of the offensive stars for the Suns in his first game back after a trip to the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game in New York. The Marlins’ No. 2 prospect finished his night 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored.
Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (2-1, 6.04) is scheduled to make the start for the Suns in game two of the five-game series on Friday, opposed by Smokies’ right-hander Dae-Eun Rhee (1-0, 0.87). First pitch is set for 7:15 p.m. ET.
Suns fans can listen to Friday’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 7:00 p.m. ET with the UF Health Suns Pre-Game Show.