— The Jacksonville Suns and Mississippi Braves played an 11-inning classic to determine the Southern League’s final playoff team on Monday, with the Braves emerging victorious in a 6-5 thriller at Bragan Field.
Because of the Mobile BayBears’ victory over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos earlier in the day, the Suns and Braves’ contest turned into a winner-take-all that was not decided until Audy Ciriaco bounced out to end Jacksonville’s dream of a postseason run.
It was Mississippi that struck first, scoring a pair of early runs against Suns starter Justin Nicolino. Tommy LaStella singled in a first inning run to put the Braves on top 1-0, and Edward Salcedo’s run-scoring hit made it a two-run lead for Mississippi.
The Suns struck back against Braves right-hander Mitch Atkins, cutting the Braves’ lead in half on Austin Barnes infield RBI single. Mark Canha then came to the plate with the bases loaded and cleared them with a booming double to center field. When the dust cleared, the Suns had a 4-2 lead.
Mississippi regained the lead almost immediately, however. Dan Brewer laced an RBI single to cut Jacksonville’s lead to 4-3, and Mycal Jones followed with a two-run double that out the Braves back on top.
The Suns would tie the game in the 6th on Ryan Fisher’s pinch-hit RBI single, which eventually proved to be the final run in the Suns’ season. Each bullpen posted four straight scoreless innings until Mississippi finally broke through on a Suns error in the 11th.
The loss ended the Suns’ chances at a second half division title, as the Suns finished the 2013 season a half game back of the Mobile BayBears in the South. Because of Mississippi’s advantage in the overall standings, the Braves emerged as the wild card champions and will take on Mobile in the first round of the Southern League playoffs.