Freitas meets challenge, slams Legends

May 05, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI |
  • Hagerstown's Bryce Harper makes contact with a pitch against Lexington on Thursday.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — David Freitas approaches baseball with a workmanlike focus.

So when the big moment came for the Hagerstown Suns catcher, his only urge was to punch a time clock.

Freitas gladly — and unemotionally — accepted the Lexington Legends’ seventh-inning challenge and cashed in with a grand slam to left to complete a three-hit, five-RBI night and lift the Suns to an 8-2 victory on Thursday before a Cinco de Mayo crowd of 2,689 at Municipal Stadium.

The Legends elected to intentionally walk Bryce Harper — who also homered earlier in the game — to load the bases with one out in an effort to stay in the game.

“I was happy when they put him on. They had to pitch to me,” Freitas said. “That’s my job to protect (Harper) and as the cleanup hitter.”

Freitas did his job quickly. After swinging through reliever Gabriel Garcia’s first pitch, the righty clubbed the second offering to the right of Municipal Stadium’s message board to blow the game wide open.

“On the first pitch, when it came out of his glove, I saw fastball,” Freitas said. “It was a changeup. The next pitch, I kept the changeup in the back of my head. He gave me another one. I just squared up on the ball and I knew I hit it well.”

It was the defining blow in what became the Suns’ seventh consecutive victory.

“It always feels good when you make them pay in situations like that,” Suns manager Brian Daubach said. “You have to settle down and try not to hit a home run and just play baseball. The first one was a big swing, but he got himself under control for the second one.”

Freitas earlier hit a two-out RBI single in the fifth to move the Suns into a 4-2 lead.

Harper put the Suns out front in the third inning with his seventh home run, a two-run shot off Lexington starter Juan Minaya (0-2). It was a no-doubt shot that had some doubt.

Blake Kelso led off the inning with a ground-rule double to right. Harper stepped in with one out and fouled off a pair of pitches after reaching a 1-2 count before connecting with a line shot down the right-field line that bounced off the back wall. Kelso, who had three hits, scored and Harper checked in at second until the umpires conferred and ruled the shot a home run.

Harper, the Washington Nationals’ top prospect who is hitting .357, went 1-for-3.

Freitas and Harper accounted for seven of Hagerstown’s eight runs, more than enough support for starter Bobby Hansen. Hansen (3-1) struggled at times, allowing two runs on eight hits, but he did his job through five innings.

“Bobby didn’t have his best stuff,” Daubach said. “We are trying to get our pitchers to compete even when they don’t have their best stuff. He gave up some hits, but he kept us in the game.”

Lexington took a 1-0 lead in the second against Hansen, as Mike Kvasnicka led off with a double off the center-field wall and scored on Tyler Burnett’s single.

The Suns tied the game in the bottom of the inning.  Freitas led off with a single off Minaya and took second on Randolph Oduber’s single to left. After moving to third on Jason Martinson’s fielder’s choice grounder, Freitas scored when Burnett, the Legends’ first baseman, failed to catch Minaya’s pickoff attempt on Martinson.

Lexington moved within 3-2 in the fifth on Delino DeShields Jr.’s RBI double to right. Freitas’ single gave the two-run cushion back to the Suns in the bottom of the inning.

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