JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Bryan Evans tossed seven and two thirds shutout innings and the Jacksonville Suns took advantage of two Mississippi Braves’ errors en route to a 3-0 win in game four of a five-game series at Bragan Field.
The victory sets up a win-and-they’re-in situation for the Suns in their regular season finale against Mississippi on Monday, with a triumph clinching the Southern League South division title. The win also propelled Jacksonville back into sole possession of first place by a half game over Mobile in the season’s second half.
“For us to come out the way we did tonight…was really gratifying,” Suns manager Andy Barkett said following the win. “But we’ve still got to win this ball game tomorrow.”
Evans surrendered just six hits in his second consecutive shutout outing, striking out seven and issuing no walks. He was lifted with a 3-0 lead and the bases loaded, walking off to a standing ovation before reliever Grant Dayton got Tommy LaStella to fly out to deep left to end the threat.
“[Evans] is mixing his pitches well and keeping hitters off balance,” Barkett said. “His changeup’s got good action to it and he’ll surprise you with his fastball.”
Jacksonville failed to put a runner on base through their first three innings against Braves right-hander Gus Schlosser (7-6) but broke through with two outs in the fourth. Austin Barnes drew a walk and came around to score on Mark Canha’s ringing double down the left field line, putting the Suns ahead 1-0.
Evans made the slim one-run lead stand until the seventh, when a pair of Braves errors helped plate two more Suns runs. With two runners on and one out, Isaac Galloway bounced a ball to third baseman Edward Salcedo. Salcedo’s throw to second base sailed into right field, allowing Audy Ciriaco to score the Suns’ second run.
Right fielder Dan Brewer’s ensuing throw home flew into the Suns dugout, sending Danny Black to home plate for a 3-0 Jacksonville lead.
Nick Wittgren pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his first save as a member of the Suns.
Jacksonville can secure a second half South Division title with a win on Monday over Mississippi in the regular season finale, and could also clinch a playoff spot with a Mobile BayBears loss against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The only scenario leaving the Suns out of the playoffs involved a Jacksonville loss and a Mobile win.
The Suns will turn to left-hander Justin Nicolino (3-2, 4.46) to pitch them to a division title on Monday, opposed by Braves right-hander Mitch Atkins (5-2, 3.15). First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. ET.