Braves Hold off Suns Rally
Pearl, Miss. - With two runners on base and two out in the ninth inning, Braves centerfielder Carl Loadenthal made a leaping catch of a Xavier Paul fly ball in the right-centerfield warning track, preserving a Mississippi Braves (53-43, 11-15) Tuesday night 7-5 victory over the Jacksonville Suns (59-37, 18-8) in front of 3,419 at Trustmark Park.
Mississippi won the first half South Division championship by one game in the standings over second place Jacksonville. Tuesday's game was the first meeting between the teams in 2007.
Mississippi opened the scoring in the first inning against Jacksonville starter Joey Norrito. J.C. Holt hit a leadoff triple while Brandon Jones later drove home his league-leading 72nd runner with a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 Braves lead.
Jacksonville gained the lead for the first time in the third inning off of Mississippi starter Moises Hernandez. Juan Gonzalez and Jimmy Rohan hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. Joey Norrito took a pitch off of his right hand in trying a sacrifice bunt, but remained in the game to load the bases. After a Xavier Paul line out to shortstop, James Tomlin singled home Gonzalez and Rohan to give the Suns a 2-1 lead.
The Braves bounced back to tie the game in the fourth inning when Mark Jurich followed a Diory Hernandez leadoff double with a single to bring the game to a 2-2 deadlock. Mississippi regained the lead in the fifth inning when Brandon Jones hit a two-run homerun over the right field wall, his 15th of the season, giving the Braves a 4-2 lead. Following a walk and another single, Suns starter Joey Norrito left the game after four and one-thirds innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on eight hits.
Mississippi added to the lead again in the sixth inning as J.C. Holt doubled home Moises Hernandez for a 5-2 lead. Jacksonville rebounded right away as Hernandez returned to the mound in the seventh inning. Anthony Raglani belted his 15th homerun of the season, leading off the inning to cut the Braves lead to 5-3. A.J. Ellis followed Raglani with a single and moved to third base on a fielder's choice and throwing error from Hernandez. The Mississippi starter then dealt a wild pitch that allowed Ellis to score, cutting the Braves lead to 5-4.
The Braves pulled away with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Mark Jurich scored in the seventh inning on a throwing error from reliever Brian Akin, while Carl Loadenthal scored on an eighth inning, two-out hit from Diory Hernandez to open a 7-4 lead.
Jacksonville faced reliever Charlie Morton in the ninth inning with Anthony Raglani leading off with a walk. Following an A.J. Ellis strikeout, Juan Gonzalez singled. Jimmy Rohan next struck out for the second out of the inning, bringing up David Nicholson, who entered the game earlier during a double switch. Nicholson promptly singled to center, scoring Raglani to cut the lead to 7-5. Xavier Paul next belted a fly ball to the deepest part of right-centerfield, but centerfielder Carl Loadenthal made a running, leaping catch for the final out preserving the win.
Moises Hernandez (1-1) picked up the win for Mississippi while Joey Norrito (6-1) suffered his first loss of the 2007 season. Sung Ki Jung (1) saved the game by recording the final two outs.
Jacksonville and Mississippi meet in game two in the series of five Wednesday at 8:05 p.m. ET. Suns RH James McDonald will face Braves RH James Parr. Fans can follow the action in Jacksonville on AM 930 The Fox or online at jaxsuns.com.
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Southern League Stories from July 17, 2007
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