Suns get up in time

Morning start works well for Hagerstown

Morning start works well for Hagerstown


Anthony Pannone will never be classified as an early riser.

"I am usually getting up about the time we were in the third inning," the Hagerstown Suns starting pitcher said.

But when Pannone had to answer the alarm on a 10:35 a.m. start for the team's first Education Day matinee Wednesday, he made it worth his while and taught Hickory a lesson.

Pannone fired seven innings of four-hit, shutout baseball to steam the Crawdads and help the Suns to a 3-1 victory before a middle-school crowd of 2,659 for a game featuring the educational side of baseball.

It was so early it was tough to tell if the players were stretching or yawning.

"The only time I had ever played this early was in junior college," said Pannone. "I told myself that if I had to get up this early, I wasn't going to let it go to waste."


Pannone (2-1) struggled in the first inning, allowing a pair of two-out singles, but faced just two batters over the minimum in his last 6 2/3 innings.

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"Other than spring training, this is the earliest I've ever been in a game," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "You tend to get used to a routine, and for us it's usually a night one. (Pannone) threw a lot of pitches in the first inning and we weren't sure how long he would last, but then he got locked in and pitched really well. He gave us seven shutout innings ... that's something we really needed."

Pannone's effort lifted a Hagerstown pitching staff that has struggled for the last two weeks. It was only Hagerstown's fourth win in the last 13 games.

The long start comes before a stretch of six games in four days against Greensboro, including back-to-back doubleheaders today and Friday. Two games are makeups of last weekend's rainouts in North Carolina.

Pannone had a 15-pitch first inning, when Jeff Keppinger and Walter Young reached on singles. Jose Bautista worked Pannone to a 3-0 count before lining to left. From there, the Crawdads managed only a pair of harmless singles, while Pannone struck out five without allowing a walk.

The Suns gave Pannone a working margin in the second with a run off Hickory starter Ian Oquendo (2-2). Hagerstown loaded the bases with no outs but couldn't cash in a big inning, as only Leonel Cabrera managed an RBI single.

Robbie Meyer led off the fourth with his third home run of the year for a 2-0 lead. Hagerstown took a three-run lead in the seventh on singles by Cabrera, Julio Cordido and Branden Florence. Cabrera scored from second on Florence's infield hit.

Hickory didn't break through until the ninth against Ryan Meaux on a walk to Keppinger and singles to Young and Bautista, but escaped the big inning with the help of a double play for the win.

"Any win is a good win," Ramsey said. "We got it done early. Now we have the afternoon off, which will help us get ready for a tough stretch ahead."

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