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Suns back in first place after sweep

Posted: August 30, 2014 - 11:10pm

Call them the first-place Jacksonville Suns.

That’s where the Suns reside in the South Division standings of the Southern League after they received pitching gems from Jay Rogers and Jon Link in taking a doubleheader from the Mobile BayBears by 3-1 and 1-0 scores Saturday in front of 5,168 at the Baseball Grounds.

With Mississippi’s game at Huntsville postponed by rain, the Suns moved half a game ahead of the Braves in their bid to make it to the playoffs. The Suns, currently riding an eight-game winning streak, have two games left. Mississippi has three, including a Sunday doubleheader at Huntsville.

The Suns received strong pitching efforts, first from Rogers, who allowed three hits and no earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.

As good as that was, Link was even better in the nightcap. He allowed two hits and one walk and struck out a career-best 12 batters. Link struck out the first six batters he faced and was credited with seven strikeouts in the first two innings when one batter reached first on a wild pitch on strike three.

Rogers’ performance was his best in his last five outings. He had given up 20 earned runs and 33 hits in 17 innings in his previous four innings. But on Saturday, he allowed just the three hits, no earned runs, two walks and had three strikeouts.

“I haven’t been pleased with my performance this past month, but tonight was much better,” Rogers said. “I had good fastball command and kept my changeup down where it wasn’t going to hurt me. I wanted to finish on a high note and pitch well in that this might have been my last time out there unless we make the playoffs. Plus, my mom was in from Dallas, so I wanted to pitch well for her.”

The Suns scored all their runs in the fourth inning in the opener. They got their first hit when J.T. Realmuto singled to right, sending Austin Nola to third. He scored from there on Viosergy Rosa’s sacrifice fly. Austin Barnes then hit his 12th homer, giving give the Suns a 3-1 lead.

In the second game, James Nygren came on in the seventh inning and faced four batters to earn the win.

The Suns will send Justin Nicolino (13-4, 2.98) to the mound for Sunday’s 7:05 p.m. game.