The Miami Marlins Double-A affiliate Jacksonville Suns are playing better baseball since we last had a report on Fish Stripes, as the Suns closed a historic 20-game homestand with a series victory over the Birmingham Barons.
The Suns are now truly on the road for the first time this season, facing the Chattanooga Lookouts in a rematch of last season's Southern League Championship Series.
Here's a look back at those games from where we left off last week.
A low-scoring series for the Suns ended with a shutout loss last Friday, as Biloxi picked up the 1-0 victory. Brewers prospect Orlando Arcia's RBI single in the third inning was the only run needed for the Shuckers, as Jacksonville only had two hits in the shutout loss.
In an incredible performance by the Suns bullpen, Jacksonville pitchers combined for a club-record 19 strikeouts as the Suns blanked the Barons 3-0. Starter Greg Nappo in a spot start stuck out eight batters in his three innings, and the rest of the bullpen kept it going with six strikeouts from Brian Ellington, one by Frankie Reed, and four by closer Sean Donatello. Chadd Krist had his first Double-A homer to get the Suns on the board in the sixth.
Another scoreless game between the Suns and Barons went into the late innings before Matt Juengel blasted his third homer of the year in the seventh to open the scoring. Jacksonville added three runs in the eighth, and Jake Esch earned the win with his seven scoreless innings in his return to the Suns from Triple-A New Orleans.
Barons starter Myles Jaye fired seven no-hit innings before the bullpen took over in the eighth, where the Suns avoided a combined no-hitter with a pair of hits. Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth, Viosergy Rosa powered his first homer of the year, a two-run shot over the right field bleachers to avoid a shutout, however the Barons held onto a one-run victory.
In the first true back-and-forth game of the season, Jacksonville clinched a series win with a 6-5 win on Tuesday. Matt Juengel led the way with a 2-for-4 day at the plate with a homer, two RBI, and three suns scored, while Craig Stem earned the win in relief with Sean Donatello grabbing the save.
Starter Kendry Flores kept the Barons off the board until the seventh inning, where a two-run homer by Birmingham's Jeremy Farrell was the difference in the series finale. Sharif Othman had the lone multi-hit day for the Suns and he drove in Jacksonville's only run.
In the first true road game of the season, the Suns broke out the bats to match a season-high with 11 hits in a 6-4 win over Chattanooga. The Suns had four RBI singles help paint the scoreboard, while Zack Cox went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI in the win. Donatello ended his solid week with a perfect ninth to earn the save.
DONATELLO SOUTHERN LEAGUE RELIEF PITCHER OF THE MONTH FOR APRIL
Jacksonville Suns right-handed relief pitcher Sean Donatello has been named the Southern League's BC Relief Pitcher of the Month for April, announced by the league office on Friday.
The award goes to the league's best overall relief pitcher, and this is the first Southern League honor for a Suns player in 2015.
Donatello's six saves are tied with Mobile's Enrique Burgos for the league lead, and Donatello has saved six of Jacksonville's 10 wins in the first 21 games of the year.
Donatello is also tied for first in the league with nine appearances, and he leads the league with nine games finished.
Overall, Donatello has no wins or losses and a 0.93 ERA in nine and two-thirds innings pitched. In that time he has struck out 12 batters while walking only one, and he has only given up one run on five hits in his nine appearances.
Among Southern League relievers, Donatello is second in the league with the fewest baserunners per nine innings (5.59), has the fourth-lowest walk per nine inning ratio (0.93), and his .147 batting average against is the fifth lowest in the league.
This is the first season for Donatello at the Double-A level. He was originally drafted by the Marlins in the 25th round of the 2011 draft from the University of Connecticut at Avery Point.
The Southern League-BC Relief Pitcher of the Month award is sponsored by BC Headache Powder, a brand well known around the Southeast. The award is given to the most outstanding relief pitcher, on a current League roster, over the prior month in the circuit.
In 1906, at their pharmacy in Durham, NC, Germain Bernard and C.T. Council formulated a new, effective pain reliever that fast developed a very loyal customer following of hardworking Americans who needed reprieve from their toughest aches and pains. 100 years and millions of family and friends later, BC® Powder is still bringing speedy relief and showing pain who's boss. BC® Powder is available in three varieties - Original, Arthritis, and Cherry.
Last night Donatello earned the save with a perfect ninth to preserve Jacksonville's 6-4 win over the Chattanooga Lookouts.
The Suns look forward to teaming up with Fish Stripes all season long to give you these Jacksonville Suns reports. You can also find more information about the Suns by visiting our official website: jaxsuns.com, blog: sunsradio.com, Facebook page, Twitter page, and by listening to The Jacksonville Suns Podcast.