Jaxx Beat Suns in Opener

The Double-A Southern League Championship Series kicked off on Tuesday night with the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx downing Jacksonville, 7-4, in game one of a best-of-five series.

In Jacksonville, Fla., Brandon Sing's three-run home run capped off a four-run first inning that sent the Jaxx on their way to their seventh straight victory dating back to Sept. 3. Sing's home run was his 29th of the year.

Most of the Jaxx scoring came in the first two innings as the club jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the second inning behind starter Jae-Kuk Ryu. Ryu went six innings and allowed four runs on seven hits for his 12th win of the year and fourth in his last five starts.

Matt Craig hit a two-run shot in the second against Jacksonville ace Chad Billingsley. Billingsley left after two innings, surrendering six runs on three hits to snap a five-game winning streak. He walked four and struck out four.

"I never really look to go deep," said Craig, who hit .275 with 12 home runs in 99 games during the regular season. "(Casey) McGehee drew a two-out walk and I got up in the count 2-0 and was just looking for a pitch to drive and hit hard in that situation. I actually didn't think I got the ball elevated enough for it to go out. It wasn't a typical home run."

Craig finished the night 1-for-3 and is 3-for-9 in the post-season.

Eric Patterson totaled three hits atop the lineup and also added a walk. Patterson, the Class-A Peoria Chiefs' team MVP this year, is now 8-for-15 in the post-season. Adam Greenberg drove in two runs thanks to an RBI bloop single to left in the first and a bases loaded walk in the eighth.

The Jaxx bullpen was phenomenal as well, as right-handers Jon Searles, David Aardsma and Andrew Shipman each threw one perfect inning apiece. Shipman notched his 17th save of the year, striking out the final two batters he faced.

"The most important thing late in the game is to throw strikes and get the first guy out," said Searles, 6-3 with a 3.42 ERA in 59 appearances during the regular season. "We got the lead early, but you know they're going to put together a little charge. You don't get to the championship series by not putting runs on the boards, so by no means was it out of reach."

Searles said of Ryu, "He didn't give in all night. You know he'll give you six innings every night. I think he did a good job of keeping up in the game and keeping us just far enough ahead. Jacksonville is a good team. They can swing the bat. He did a good job of keeping his composure."

Game two of the series is set for Wednesday night beginning at 7:05 p.m. EDT with left-hander Renyel Pinto scheduled to face right-hander Eric Hull. The series was originally scheduled to start Wednesday, but Jacksonville swept Birmingham in the opening round of the playoffs and thus game one was moved up.

"I think it was actually better for us, having to move it up a day early," said Craig. "You always want to relax, but not sit around too long."


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