Suns Walk-Off a Winner over Stars 5-4
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.- Chris Gutierrez hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to secure the first victory of the season for the Jacksonville Suns (1-1) over the Huntsville Stars (1-1) with a 5-4 win in front of 7,142 fans at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville on Friday night.
With no one out and two runners on in the bottom of the ninth, Gutierrez sneaked a ground-ball single past a drawn-in infield into left center field to score Erik Lis from second for the winning run.
Peter Andrelczyk (1-0) took the victory for the Suns by pitching scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth. Roque Mercedes (0-1) took the loss for Huntsville after failing to retire a batter and giving up the game-winning run.
Jacksonville jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first three innings. Jorge Padilla hit the first Suns homer of the season in the bottom of the first, a two-run shot that put Jacksonville up 2-0. The Stars cut the deficit to 2-1 with a run in the second, but the Suns responded with two runs in the third thanks to back-to-back RBI base hits by Ryan Curry and Padilla.
Huntsville starter Dan Merklinger lasted four innings, giving up four runs on seven hits in his first start of 2011.
In Suns starter Omar Poveda's final inning in the top of the fifth, the Stars added two runs off the bat of catcher Jonathan Lucroy's double to cut the lead to 4-3. Poveda finished the game giving up three runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts in his first start since 2009 after missing the 2010 season recovering from "Tommy John" surgery. He took a no decision in five innings on the mound.
The Stars tied the game in the top of the sixth inning, as Matt Cline drove in Sean Halton on a single to left off Jacksonville reliever Garrett Parcell.
Jhan Marinez, a member of the Florida Marlins' 40-man roster, made his first relief appearance of the season, pitching a perfect seventh inning with a strikeout.
Padilla's three-RBI night led Jacksonville at the plate, but the Suns also saw multi-hit games from Kevin Mattison and Ben Lasater. After striking out three times in Thursday's game, Laster recorded two doubles for the Suns on Friday.
The clubs will play the third game of the series on Saturday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonvillle. Left-hander Brad Hand will pitch for the Suns against Huntsville's right-hander Jesus Sanchez. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m., and fans can listen to the broadcast of the contest beginning at 6:50 p.m. on WFJX AM 930 the Fox and www.jaxsuns.com.
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