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Leon's first homer sparks Suns

August 04, 2010|By BOB PARASILITI

Sandy Leon considers himself a cog that turns the wheel.

He's the Hagerstown Suns' everyday catcher and is a defensive asset.

It changed a little Tuesday.

"(Defense is) my job," Leon said. "I can't hit a lot, so that's what I go do, but today was my day."

He celebrated in grand fashion. Leon blasted his first home run of the year -- a three-run blast to the deepest part of left field at Municipal Stadium -- to cap a four-run third inning and vault the Suns to an 8-5 victory over the Lexington Legends.

It capped a day when the breaks went the Suns' way as they broke a five-game losing streak and won for the third time in the last 14 games.

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"We got some big hits tonight," said Suns manager Matt LeCroy. "We ran the bases well and took advantage when balls got up."

The Suns (49-59, 13-25 second half) took a 3-0 lead in the first with the help of three Lexington errors following singles by Rick Hague, J.P. Ramirez and Destin Hood.

The Legends (55-53, 20-18) took a 4-3 lead by scoring two runs in the second -- highlighted by a Kody Hinze homer -- and two in the third as Suns starter Graham Hicks struggled.

Hagerstown took control of the game in the bottom of the third. Ramirez led off with a single and took third on Hood's hit to left off Lexington starter Luis Cruz (5-3). Ramirez scored when Brett Newsome's grounder went between the legs of Legends second baseman Jimmy Paredes.

After Hood was erased on Stephen King's grounder to third, Leon crushed his blast to left on Cruz's 1-0 fastball to the outside half of the plate.

"Every time he pitched to me it was up and inside and I wouldn't swing," Leon said. "Then he gave me the one on the outside and I got it. It's been a long time for me to get my first home run."

The swing was a statement for Leon.

"He realizes his job and role, but his offense is getting better," LeCroy said. "He is becoming valuable to the organization. He is a leader."

Ben Graham (2-1) made sure the Suns kept the lead. He relieved Hicks with one out and runners on first and third in the fourth and got Lexington's Brian Kemp to hit into an inning-ending double play to preserve the three-run lead.

"We left some balls up tonight, but Graham came in and got the big double play," LeCroy said.

Lexington moved within 7-5 in the fifth on back-to-back two-out doubles by Paredes and Renzo Tello off Graham.

The Suns answered and put the final touch on the win with Ramirez's third hit of the night, a one-out solo homer to right in the seventh.

"Then J.P. got his home run to give us the extra run to give us a little more breathing room and make it a little easier for (reliever Dean) Weaver to close it out," LeCroy said. "You try to get the guys in a situation where they aren't pressing. It was a good change."

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