HAGERSTOWN — The Hagerstown Suns lost on Saturday. They dropped an 8-6 decision to Lexington, ending an eight-game winning streak.
Still, manager Brian Daubach came away feeling confident ... winning eight of nine games will do that.
The Suns fell behind 7-0 in the Hagerstown debut of pitcher A.J. Cole and managed to come back to where they were still one swing away from tying or winning the game before 3,062 fans at Municipal Stadium.
“I saw some fight in this club,” Daubach said. “When you win eight in a row, it’s easy to say you lost this one and we’ll come back out tomorrow. But they came back and were within one swing of winning it. I’m impressed with the fight in these kids. They don’t like to lose.”
It could have been easy to wave the white flag after Lexington (16-13) sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs in the fifth inning to take a seven-run lead. But the Suns kept swinging.
Hagerstown (19-10) finally broke through against Lexington starter Tanner Bushue in the bottom of the fifth when Randolph Oduber walked and came home on Jason Martinson’s one-out home run to right field, his second of the season.
The Suns teed off against Lexington starter David Martinez in the seventh, starting with Brett Newsome drawing a one-out walk. Michael Taylor hit a double off the center-field wall to plate Newsome and scored on Blake Kelso’s triple to right. Adrian Sanchez followed with an RBI single to right to chase Martinez.
Lexington brought in left-handed Alex Sogard to face Bryce Harper, who greeted the reliever with a single to right. A passed ball advanced the runners into scoring position to allow David Freitas to ground to first to move the Suns to within 7-6.
The rally, coupled with 2 1/3 innings of clutch relief by Matt Swynenberg, put the Suns in position to snatch the game away from the Legends.
Emilio King hit a leadoff homer to left off Suns reliever Neil Holland in the ninth to make it tougher.
The Suns still challenged in the ninth against Lexington closer Jorge DeLeon. Adrian Sanchez kept Hagerstown alive by reaching base on a strike-three wild pitch with two outs and Harper singled to right to give Freitas a chance to tie or win the game. Freitas hit a hot one-hopper to Jhonny Mier at short to end the game.
“That thing might have gone all the way to the fence if it got through,” Daubach said.
Cole (0-1), 19 , Washington’s fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft, showed much poise for his first start, but gave up two runs before leaving in the fourth.
He gave up a homer to Chris Wallace in the second and an RBI double to Andrew Bailey in the third to fall behind 2-0.
“It was his first career start and he was probably a little nervous,” Daubach said. “He kept his composure well and got out of a couple of tough situations. For me, it wasn’t a surprising start.”
Lexington blew the game open in the fifth inning by sending 10 hitters to the plate to score five times against relievers Shane McCatty and Swynenberg. The Legends did most of the damage against McCatty, who walked three in the inning. King keyed the rally with an RBI double.
Harper extended his hitting to 11 games with a pair of singles in his last two at-bats. He was 2-for-5 with two strikeouts and lifted his average to .370.