Suns Win Southern League Championship

JACKSON, Tennessee-- The Jacksonville Suns won the 2005 Southern League championship, beating the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, 3-1, in Game 4 Saturday. The championship is the Suns' third overall, and second outright title. The Suns won the title in 1996 and a share in 2001, under current manager John Shoemaker.

It was fitting for the Suns, widely heralded as the most talented team in all of the Minor Leagues, to win their league title. After losing Game 1, the Suns won three consecutive games, out-pitching the by far the best pitching club statistically, the Diamond Jaxx.

In Game 4, Justin Orenduff made his first start of the postseason and scattered seven hits, allowing one run, on Brandon Sing's double in the sixth inning. He lasted 5.1 innings, his longest outing since Aug. 9, and earned the victory.

James Loney staked the Suns to a 1-0 lead, hitting a towering home run to right field off Diamond Jaxx starter Carlos Marmol. The score remained unchanged until Russell Martin hit his first of two, two-out run-scoring hits. He singled up the middle, bringing home Jon Weber in the sixth, giving the Suns a 2-0 lead. Martin doubled high off the center field wall in the eighth, facing Diamond Jaxx reliever David Aardsma, scoring Loney, giving the Suns their final 3-1 advantage.

Luis Gonzalez pitched a perfect 1.2 innings of relief leading to Suns closer Jonathan Broxton, who pitched two scoreless innings, allowing only a one-out ninth inning double to Sing. Broxton earned the save and hugged Loney, who recorded the game's final out on pinch-hitter Aaron Sisk's popout.

The Suns managed four hits: two each from Loney and Martin. Three of the hits drove in runs.

The Suns will host the Chattanooga Lookouts on Thursday, April 6, 2006, at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville to open the new season. Sun Spots: The Suns' season lasted 165 days, 147 games and the team traveled 16,075 miles by bus. … West Tenn had eight hits in each of the final three games of the series, but went 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position in that span. … Other than the Game 1 loss to West Tenn, the Suns allowed four runs in the other six games, including two runs and one walk over the final three games to West Tenn.