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Suns ground 'Hoppers

August 17, 2010|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Nyjer Morgan, right, greets Hagerstown Suns outfielders J.P. Ramirez, left, and Eury Perez before Monday's game at Municipal Stadium. Morgan played in Hagerstown on an injury rehab assignment from the Washington Nationals.
Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

Monday night was as easy as a game of checkers for the Hagerstown Suns.

Starting pitcher Mitchell Clegg got a jump on Greensboro before the Suns Kinged the Grasshoppers.

Stephen King hit a three-run home run to cap a six-run fourth inning in support of Clegg, lifting the Suns to an 8-1 victory.

The performances took center stage over the appearance of Nyjer Morgan, the Washington Nationals center fielder, who made a rehab stop in Hagerstown. He went 0 for 3 with a walk while playing seven innings and left the stadium before he could be reached for comment.

The major leaguer played the role of an extra on this day.

Clegg set the tone with a speedy six innings of work in his first start since being sidelined with a shoulder ailment. He made one mistake -- a leadoff home run to Jeff Corsaletti in the fourth to tie the game at 1.

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"I felt good," Clegg said. "The biggest thing was I was trying to get back to how I was doing before I got hurt and I wanted to control my emotions. I know I'm not going to be a strikeout pitcher, so it is important for me to have good defense behind me. I tried to work fast to help them stay ready. I got a lot of ground balls off my sinker."

The Suns (56-64, 20-30 second half) gave Clegg all the offensive help he needed in their half of the fourth by batting around and hitting for a team cycle.

Destin Hood lined a shot down the right-field line off Greensboro starter Matt Montgomery (9-11) for a triple that right fielder Sequoyah Stonecipher just missed catching. Brett Newsome followed the same route with a ground single to score the go-ahead run.

Rick Hague singled and Sandy Leon advanced the runners with a bunt before King stroked a liner to right that cleared the inner fence for the 5-2 lead.

"Things are finally starting to click," King said. "I have been working with (hitting coach Tony Tarasco) because I had some dead hands. He has me getting into a rhythm and we added the leg kick. (Montgomery) threw me a good curveball on the first pitch. I had to shake it off and then he came in with a fastball up and away and I got the barrel on it."

The rally continued as Eury Perez singled and Morgan drew his walk. Adrian Sanchez grounded into a fielder's choice that Perez scored on from second base. J.P. Ramirez drove in the final run on a disputed double that looked foul and got Greensboro manager Andy Haines ejected for arguing the call.

"As a coaching staff, we are trying to teach these kids to grind it out to the end," said Suns manager Matt LeCroy. "King is in between swings but he got a big hit (Sunday) and the homer was big for him today. We got to get him going."

Clegg (9-1) allowed five hits, while walking two and striking out one to make the lead stand up.

The Suns took a 1-0 lead in the first with their latest of two-out rallies. Ramirez singled to right and scored on Hood's double down the left-field line.

"That was a big hit by Hood," LeCroy said. "He has really come around both offensively and defensively. ... It has been gratifying to see as a coach. Clegg did a great job in his comeback. He got the ball and threw it. With the tempo of his game, you can tell the energy of the team. He got the ball and threw it."

The Suns got an insurance run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Ramirez.

Wanel Vasquez pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief and Ben Graham closed out the victory.

Morgan, who was sent to the disabled list with hip inflammation, struck out in the first, grounded to first in the third and grounded to short in the sixth before leaving the game. He is 0 for 5 on his rehab tour after playing as the designated hitter at Single-A Potomac on Sunday. He will play at Double-A Harrisburg today before returning to the Nationals.

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