Harper, Suns fall short in home opener

April 15, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI |
  • Hagerstown's Bryce Harper splits his bat in a first-inning groundout during the Suns' home opener Friday evening at Municipal Stadium.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Frustration, like life, is a matter of perspective.

For Bryce Harper and the Hagerstown Suns, Friday’s home opener was just another day.

Harper went 0-for-3 in his Municipal Stadium debut while the Lakewood BlueClaws got to Hagerstown starter Chris McKenzie early in an 8-4 victory over the Suns before a sellout crowd of 6,017.

“I’m not frustrated about my start. I’m more frustrated that we lost,” said Harper to the small throng of media after the game.

Lakewood jumped out to a 3-0 lead early and never let the Suns get going as Hagerstown lost its third straight game after winning its first six.

“Chris threw the ball great in his first outing, but tonight he battled to get his command,” said Suns manager Brian Daubach. “It just didn’t happen. Our offense is a little jumpy right now. They are all trying too hard.”

Harper continued to try to find his form. He grounded to short in the first, struck out in the fourth and grounded to first in the sixth before drawing a seventh-inning walk. Harper’s average dipped to .226.

“I’m seeing the ball well and think I’m getting some strong swings, it is just going to take some time,” Harper said. “I just got to get out and get better every day.”

McKenzie struggled from the start, putting two runners on in the first after getting the first two outs in the game. Things began to unravel in the second inning.

Lakewood jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second, using four singles. Aaron Altherr led off with a single and took third on Torre Langley’s base hit. Edgar Duran laced a slicing liner to left that Wade Moore made a diving catch of for a sacrifice fly.

The BlueClaws scored the second run when Langley stole home on the back end of a double steal with Zach Collier, who reached on a single. Geancarlo Mendez singled to drive in Collier.

Lakewood hit McKenzie for two more runs in the third on a two-run double to right by Langley.

The Suns got two runs back to move within 5-2 after four innings with the help of Lakewood’s defense. Adrian Sanchez broke up Lakewood starter David Buchannan’s no-hitter with a single to center and took second on a wild pitch after Bryce Harper struck out. Sanchez scored on Duran’s throwing error from short on David Freitas’s grounder. Freitas scored when second baseman Jeremy Barnes threw away Moore’s grounder.

Lakewood made it 8-2 in the sixth inning against reliever Shane McCatty as Duran led off with a double down the left-field line and Miguel Alvarez singled. Both runners scored when Mendez rolled a dribbler down the third-base line that Blake Kelso threw away. Mendez scored on a Jim Murphy grounder.

Hagerstown made some noise with two runs in the sixth inning as Freitas hit a one-out single and took third on Moore’s double to left. Kelso brought in both runs with a single to center to chase Buchanan (1-0).

Mendez led the BlueClaws (4-4) with three hits, while Langley had two RBIs.

Sanchez and Kelso had two hits each in Hagerstown’s six-hit attack.

The opener wasn’t everything Daubach wanted, but it still provided a starting point.

“With the wind the way it was, I knew it would be tough scoring tonight,” he said. “Still, we made some good plays in the field. We just need to get a big game hitting and we will be on our way.”

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