— The Jacksonville Suns (27-16, 61-49) won their 11th
consecutive game behind another strong offensive performance against the Tennessee Smokies (24-19, 58-54), winning game four of a five-game series 6-4.
The Suns hit three home runs and also received clutch hits from Zack Cox and Danny Pertusati en route to the victory, which tied the Birmingham Barons’ mark for the longest win streak in the Southern League in 2013.
“Even tonight when [Justin Nicolino] didn’t have his best stuff, we were able to get some hits,” said Suns manager Andy Barkett. “We’re finding ways to win.”
Derek Dietrich put the Suns on the board first with a solo home run in the bottom half of the first inning, and Danny Pertusati added a bases empty blast of his own the next frame after Tennessee had tied the game 1-1.
Jacksonville pushed its lead to four in the third on Zack Cox’s two-run double and took a 5-1 lead on Pertusati’s ensuing RBI single. The Smokies would eventually out hit the Suns 13 to eight, but Jacksonville was able to come through in key situations to run its season-best win streak to 11 games.
Meanwhile, on the mound, left-handed starter Justin Nicolino was solid if unspectacular for Jacksonville. The young southpaw endured stress situations for the majority of the evening, but managed to limit damage against him and earn his second straight victory.
“He was able to hold [the Smokies] at bay,” Barkett said. “They never landed the knockout punch and [Nicolino] kept us in the game.”
Tennessee pulled to within a run with two runs in the fourth and another in the top of the sixth, but it was Jacksonville who plated the game’s final run. Canha stepped to the plate with the bases empty and one out in the seventh and deposited a Dayan Diaz offering over the left field wall for his 11th home run of the season to push the lead to 6-4.
Arquimedes Caminero and Michael Brady each tossed a scoreless inning to finish off the contest, with Caminero striking out the side and Brady earning his 20th save.
The Suns will try to take their streak to an even dozen in the finale of the five-game series against the Smokies on Tuesday. Jacksonville is scheduled to start left-hander Andrew Heaney (1-0, 0.00) in his second Southern League outing. The Smokies have not yet announced a starter for the finale, set for a 7:05 p.m. ET first pitch.
Suns fans can listen to Tuesday’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 6:50 p.m. ET with the UF Health Suns Pre-Game Show.
The home stand comes to an end on Tuesday with Fifty Cent Family Feast Night & Gate Tuesday Night Tickets. Fans can enjoy $.50 hot dogs, peanuts and ice cream treats, sponsored by Oscar Mayer, Hampton Farms, Blue Bell Ice Cream, Folio Weekly and 99.9 Gator Country. Plus, fans can stop by their local Jiffy Lube for Free General Admission Tickets. Fans may present a receipt from any local GATE Convenience Store at the Suns Box Office for Buy One-Get-One Tickets.