Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suns Climb Closer to Division Lead

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suns Climb Closer to Division Lead

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeff Elliott, Times-Union sports writer

The smallest crowd of the year at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville witnessed one of the Jacksonville Suns' biggest wins of the season last night.

Jacksonville scored a pair of runs in the seventh inning to pull out a 3-2 win over former Florida State pitcher Nick Stocks and the first-place Smokies. Jacksonville climbed to within 2 1/2 games of the league leaders and just a half-game behind second-place Carolina.

Under threatening skies, fans saw a pitcher's duel between the Suns' Greg Miller and Stocks. Neither earned a decision, but both pitched well enough to pick up a win.

Miller struck out 13 in 6 2/3 innings, allowing just six hits and two runs. Stocksallowed just three singles and two walks while striking out five in his six innings.

It was another solid effort by Stocks, who appears to have made a full recovery from the knee surgery (to repair a torn meniscus) that curtailed his 2002 season, limiting him to 11 games and just 45 innings spread among three Class-A clubs.

It was the second major surgery Stocks has endured. He underwent Tommy John surgery a year after he was named a freshman All-American at Florida State.

"I wanted to put in a full season this year after missing three-fourths of the season a year ago," Stocks said. "I think I've had a full recovery, but any time you have surgery like that, it's a major setback. You just try to make the best of it."

While he's received full clearance from the team's medical staff, Stocks is still fighting the effects of the surgery.

"There's no question the knee surgery set me back some," said Stocks who was selected between the first and second rounds of the 1999 free agent draft. "I don't feel I throw the ball as hard as I did when I was at Florida State.

"And that's created a lot of inconsistency to this season. …

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