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Oduber is super as he powers Suns to sweep

April 17, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Randolph Oduber approaches versatility with a single train of thought.

“I just try to stay relaxed, set my hands and swing hard,” the Hagerstown Suns outfielder said. “I do what I can and then the game takes care of itself.”

In this case, it was two games — and Oduber did most of the caretaking. He went 5-for-7 in Sunday’s doubleheader — including a home run in each game — as the Suns put together one of their best offensive performances of the season for a 5-1, 8-3 sweep of the Lakewood BlueClaws before 1,894 fans at Municipal Stadium.

Oduber went 1-for-3 in the opener while batting cleanup, hitting a two-run homer to right in Hagerstown’s four-run third inning. He followed it up by going 4-for-4 as a leadoff hitter in the nightcap, including a solo shot over the wall in center field in a two-run sixth.

“I don’t try to change anything no matter where I’m batting,” he said. “If a man is on base, I’m looking for good pitches. If I’m batting leadoff, I try to see as many pitches as I can and look for a good pitch.”

That’s why Oduber has been an early catalyst for the Suns (8-3), who broke a three-game losing streak with the sweep. The 22-year-old from Aruba is hitting .317 with six RBIs and six stolen bases for a Hagerstown team that struggled offensively until Sunday.

“That’s the way he’s been since the first day of spring,” Suns manager Brian Daubach said. “He had been playing well and then went into a little slump the last couple of days. He made a slight adjustment with his hands and the ball was jumping off his bat today. He can hit anywhere in the lineup and he still makes the same aggressive swings. Some guys can’t do that.”

Hagerstown, which had been averaging six hits a game, collected 17 hits in the doubleheader and raised its team batting average 20 points to .229. Bryce Harper, the top prospect in the Washington Nationals’ farm system, went 2-for-6 in the twinbill, including an RBI single in each game, to raise his average to .243.

“I was very encouraged with the way we swung the bat today,” Daubach said. “It wasn’t just Oduber today. We did some good situational hitting. Like we have been saying, we just needed to get in a game like these to get going.”

Suns starter Bobby Hansen (1-0) outdueled Lakewood’s Jessie Biddle — the Philadelphia Phillies’ top selection in the 2010 draft — in the opener.

Hansen went six innings, allowing one unearned run on five hits while walking four and striking out four. Ben Graham came on to pitch a scoreless seventh.

Hagerstown took control of the game in the third, as Michael Taylor led off with a bunt single and stole second before scoring when Blake Kelso hit an infield single that was thrown away by BlueClaws second baseman Jeremy Barnes. Kelso scored on Harper’s two-out single to right before Oduber’s first home run of the day gave the Suns a 4-0 lead.

The Suns picked up an insurance run in the fifth. Cole Leonida hit a one-out single to center, moved to second on Taylor’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Kelso’s single.

Lakewood (4-6) scored its only run in the sixth on Cameron Rupp’s RBI single.

The Suns roughed up BlueClaws starter Colby Shreve from the start in the nightcap, chasing him after six runs in 2 2/3 innings. Meanwhile, Suns starter Taylor Jordan (3-0) controlled Lakewood despite allowing a solo homer to Domingo Santana in the second and two runs in the fourth on an RBI single by Rupp and a run-scoring groundout by Carlos Perdomo.

Oduber led off the game with a single before Harper and David Freitas drew one-out walks to load the bases. Mill Rogers hit a sacrifice fly and Harper used his feet to steal third while coaxing catcher Torre Langley to throw to second. Edgar Duran made an errant throw to third that allowed Harper to score and give the Suns a 2-0 lead.

Justin Martinson hit a leadoff homer in the second for a 3-1 Suns lead. Freitas led off the third with a blast to left field to start a three-run rally, as Taylor hit a sacrifice fly and Oduber added an RBI single to put the Suns up, 6-1.

Hagerstown capped the scoring in the sixth with Oduber’s homer to center and Harper’s RBI single.

Jordan allowed three runs on five hits in six innings with a walk and a strikeout.

“Both our starters went into the sixth inning and had command throughout,” Daubach said. “We have a lot of interchangeable parts on this team and we have to use them all.”

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