The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp closed out the first-half season Sunday when they swept a doubleheader from first-place Pensacola in front of a Father’s Day crowd of 5,138 at the Baseball Grounds.
The Shrimp used a fourth-inning solo home run by Cam Maron and held off a last-inning rally by the Wahoos to record a 3-2 win in the opener.
In the nightcap, former Jacksonville pitcher Luis Castillo carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before the Shrimp loaded the bases and then parlayed a line single into right by Alex Glenn for a 1-0 walk-off win, their fifth win in a last at-bat this season. It was the third 1-0 score in the series, two of which were won by Jacksonville. The Shrimp (30-40) won their first series from the Blue Wahoos (40-30) this season and, in the process, ended Pensacola’s streak of winning seven consecutive series.
Castillo, who pitched briefly for Jacksonville in 2016, was slated to be the team’s No. 1 pitcher this season, but the Miami Marlins traded him to Cincinnati in the offseason. He only allowed one baserunner (on an error) for six innings before Austin Nola led off the seventh with a single to center. The Shrimp then loaded the bases on a hit-batter and a walk to set the stage for Glenn’s heroics. Chris Mazza pitched six scoreless innings in his best effort of the year. Andre Beltre, who allowed three two-out hits before striking out the final batter in the seventh, got the win.
The first game was likely the last appearance in Jacksonville for a trio of Marlins players who were with the Shrimp on rehab assignments. Third baseman Martin Prado (hamstring strain), shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (oblique strain) and pitcher Junichi Tazawa (rib cartilage inflammation) were in Jacksonville for most of the Pensacola series. The three players were placed on the Marlins’ disabled list in mid-May.
All saw action in Sunday’s first game. Prado and Hechavarria each had a single in three at-bats and were flawless in the field.
Tazawa was brought in to replace Shrimp starting pitcher Omar Bencomo (injured leg) in the fourth inning and retired the Wahoos in order on 12 pitches, including two strikeouts. With Jacksonville idle for the next three days due to the league’s all-star game, the three rehabbing players will now head to Jupiter for more playing time.
“I feel I’m making progress,” Prado said. “Timing is really not an issue because it only takes a week or so to get the timing down. It’s the running, standing out there in the heat, and making sure my hammy is loosened up and strong. That’s the issue. But I am feeling really stable right now. I’m not concerned about the hamstring. I just need to play more and more.”
Prado is a 12-year veteran who was batting .290 with two home runs and six RBIs in 17 games prior to his injury. He started the season on the disabled list after suffering a hamstring injury while playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic in March.
“I’ve been working so hard to get back with my boys there in Miami, but I don’t want to rush it and have another setback,” Prado said. “I’ve already had two. When I do return, I just want to stay there and be healthy. I just need a couple more games where I play seven, eight, nine innings to help with the endurance. It’s frustrating at times, but I’m happy that I’m making progress and will be back in Miami soon. But for now, it’s back to Jupiter.”
Jacksonville is idle for three days for the Southern League All-Star Game festivities. Brian Anderson and John Norwood will start in Tuesday’s game in Pensacola and will be participants in a home run contest Monday. Pitchers Mike Kickham and Matt Tomshaw were also named to the South team roster.