Miami Sports Day

SUNS: Esch Wins League-High 10th, Jacksonville Tops Wahoos

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Suns right-hander Jake Esch became the first pitcher in the Southern League to win 10 games, going 6 2/3 innings against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, and first baseman Chris Curley hit a two-run home run in a 3-2 win in front of 2,231 at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville Monday night.

Esch earned his career-high 10th win and became the Suns’ first 10-game winner since 2014. The victory tied the Suns (13-12 second half, 43-52 overall) with Mobile atop the Southern League South Division second-half standings.

In the first inning Monday, Esch (10-6) struck out the side around a two-out walk and double. He allowed a second-inning one-out single, but once he was given a 2-0 lead to start the next inning, he did not allow Pensacola (12-13, 53-42) to put the tying run in scoring position. He allowed two earned runs on seven hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. Esch also scored a run while going 1-for-2 at the plate, raising his season batting average to .429.

Blue Wahoos right-hander Nick Travieso (5-5) retired the first five Suns batters, before second baseman Garrett Weber hit a two-out double to right-center field, and Curley hit his fifth home run to the right-field bleachers for a 2-0 lead.

In the third inning, the Blue Wahoos got a one-out double from shortstop Alex Blandino, before right fielder Sebastian Elizalde hit an RBI single to left field.

The Suns extended the lead in the fifth inning, when Esch, right fielder Ronnie Mitchell and left fielder Austin Dean singled consecutively to begin the inning. Dean’s hit to left field scored Esch to make it 3-1. But the Blue Wahoos answered by pulling within a run in the sixth inning, as Elizalde doubled and scored on back-to-back groundouts.

With a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning, Esch allowed a two-out single to center fielder Jeff Gelalich, before right-hander Tyler Bremer entered to strike out Blandino. Bremer retired all three batters in the eighth inning, before right-hander Sean Donatello pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his team-high sixth save.

The Suns open a series in Mobile at 7:35 p.m. Wednesday, when Suns right-hander Hunter Adkins (1-5) is scheduled to face right-hander Cole Johnson in his BayBears debut. The Suns open a 10-game homestand Tuesday, July 26, against Jackson.

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