By Roger Hoover / Jacksonville Suns
The Jacksonville Suns have hit the road for the first time in the 2016, starting a five-game series with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos tonight at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The Suns are coming off a successful homestand against the Birmingham Barons, where Jacksonville won 4 of 5 contests, and yesterday topped the Barons 11-7 in an offensive shootout at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
Now the Suns are in Pensacola, ready to renew an in-state rivalry with the Blue Wahoos. For Jacksonville right-handed pitcher Jake Esch (1-0, 1.80 ERA) gets the start after winning in his first outing against the Barons last Thursday. He’ll be opposed by Blue Wahoos right-handed pitcher Nick Travieso (1-0, 0.00) who also won on Thursday in his outing against the Mississippi Braves.
Here are more notes on tonight’s contest from the official Suns game notes:
Best Fans in the Southern League: The Jacksonville Suns welcomed 26,336 fans to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville during the first homestand, for an average of 5,267 each night. Both the total attendance and average attendance are the best marks the Southern League, and the second-highest in all of Double-A baseball (Corpus Christi Hooks welcomed 27.510 fans in the Texas League). The Opening Night crowd of 8,367 fans was the highest the Suns have had for Opening Night since 2007, and this was the best opening series crowd since the 2011 season.
RBI Riddle: Despite only playing in four of Jacksonville’s first five games, infielder J.T. Riddle leads the Southern League with seven runs batted in. Riddle’s RBI production against the Barons started on Thursday, when his three-run homer helped propel Jacksonville to a 6-1 victory. On Sunday, Riddle drove in two runs despite going 0-for4 at the plate thanks to RBI groundouts. Riddle also drove in two runs in last night’s game, part of a 2-for-4 performance at the plate. Last season Riddle drove in 20 runs in 44 games played with Jacksonville during the second half. Riddle is listed by Baseball America as the No. 22 Marlins prospect.
Hello Wahoos: Tonight the Suns renew their in-state rivalry with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. This is the first of four series between the clubs, and the first of two played in Penscola. The Suns will next welcome to the Wahoos to the Baseball Grounds from May 19-23, and July 14-18, before making a return trip to Pensacola from August 27-31. Last year the Suns and Wahoos also played 20 games, with Pensacola winning the season series 12-8. The Suns won the first three season series between the clubs in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Crowded at the Top: The Suns, Wahoos, and Biloxi Shuckers are all tied atop the Southern League South Division with 4-1 records. While the Suns did their damage against the Barons in Jacksonville, the Shuckers took 4 of 5 from Chattanooga in Biloxi, and the Wahoos are coming off a 4-1 trip to Mississippi. Despite the great start, the clubs are only one game up on Mobile, who won a series by going 3-2 at Tennessee.
Fans can listen to the game live on the Suns Baseball Network, with Roger Hoover providing play by play. Hoover and Andrew Gibson will host the pregame show Suns On Deck beginning at 7:15 p.m. ET. The game can be heard locally on FM 102.3 The Beach, on the TuneIn Radio app, as well as online by clicking the link below:
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 packages for the upcoming season, there is a reason for everyone to get part of the action by calling the Suns at (904) 358-2846 or visiting http://www.jaxsuns.com.