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Suns pitching forces Braves to be timid

April 09, 2011

ROME, Ga. — Bryce Harper said he doesn’t mind having an oh-fer night as long as the Hagerstown Suns win.

He did that on Saturday. And so did the Suns.

Harper went hitless in four tries, but still managed to drive in the winning run with a forceout ground ball in the fifth inning as Hagerstown remained undefeated with a 3-2 victory over the Rome Braves.

Harper, the Washington Nationals’ and baseball’s top pick in the 2010 draft, has gone hitless in his last nine at-bats as his average dropped to .182. But even though his production has been off, Hagerstown has swept the first three games of the series.

For the third straight night, the Suns starting pitching stole the show. Hagertown starter Chris McKenzie (1-0) allowed one run one hit over five innings. Suns starters have combined to allow only one run on nine hits in 16 innings.

The Suns (3-0) broke through for two runs in the fourth inning after Harper led off by striking out. David Freitas followed by launching a home run over the wall in center field off Rome starter Stephen Kent (0-1).

Sean Nicol restarted the Suns with a two-out single to right and scored on Blake Kelso’s double to left to give Hagerstown a 2-0 lead.

The Suns added insurance against reliever Chasen Shreve as Randolph Oduber laid down a one-out bunt to third. After Adrian Sanchez singled to advance Oduber to third, Harper hit his RBI grounder for the 3-0 lead.

Rome came back with single runs in the sixth and eighth innings to get within a run.

Reliever Wilson Eusebio struck our Christian Bethancourt with the tying run on third to end the eighth.

Ben Graham came on to retire the Braves in order for his second save.

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