Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SUNS NOTEBOOK; Road Woes Prove Costly

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SUNS NOTEBOOK; Road Woes Prove Costly

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT, The Times-Union

The Jacksonville Suns seem intent on carrying their theme of "win with ease at home, lose in style on the road" right down to the last series of the year.

After playing well in their final home series of the year, capturing 10 of 13 games, including an improbable four-run rally in the ninth inning of an 8-7 win over Greenville in the last game of the year at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, the Suns began their final road series with a 9-4 loss in Carolina. The 10-3 mark in the last homestand left the Suns with a 46-23 home record this year, guaranteeing them the best Southern League mark at home.

On the other hand, should the Suns drop their final three games in Carolina, it will assure them of the worst road mark in the league for this season at 19-50. And that's one big blemish with this year's club that Suns manager Dino Ebel won't easily forget, nor can he explain it.

"It's the one big disappointment about this year," said Ebel, who is wrapping up his third season as Suns manager. "We seemed to play well enough to win on the road, but it's the little mistakes that we would make that cost us so many games. We play .500 on the road, and we're in the playoffs. Add that to the young squad we had here, with nine players less than 23 years old, it wore them down mentally the last part of the season.

"I pushed them to the limit even at the end, but it will pay off for us down the road. This pitching staff here next year will be unbelievable. With a lot of top prospects coming out of spring training next year, on paper, it could be the best pitching staff in the minor leagues in baseball. When you think about guys like Greg Miller, Brian Pilkington, Chad Billingsley, Ryan Ketchner and Jonathan Broxton as potential starters, I think it's going to be an exciting year."

Miller, 19, and Pilkington, 21, would have been in the starting rotation for the Suns this year, but both missed the entire season recovering from arm injuries. Billingsley and Broxton, both just 20 , are hard-throwing right-handers. Ketchner, 22, was 7-3 and leading the league with a 2. …

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