HAGERSTOWN — For much of the first half of the season, the Hagerstown Suns have been the bullies on the block.
The Suns pushed teams around while building a convincing record in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division. Now, everyone is pushing back.
Delmava pushed twice on Thursday. Mike Flacco hit a walk-off RBI double in the bottom of the ninth to lift Delmarva to a 6-5 victory in the completion of last Saturday's suspended game in Salisbury, Md. The Shorebirds followed by shutting down the Suns completely with a 4-0 shutout.
“We just can’t get the big hit,” said Suns manager Brian Daubach. “We haven’t been hitting that well, but our hitting with runners in scoring position hasn’t been good. We are pressing a bit.”
Hagerstown’s problems in the clutch have translated into a six-game losing streak. The Suns (37-31) are in third place, two games behind Hickory and Greensboro, with three games to play.
The Suns added to their problems by giving Delmarva three unearned runs in the suspended game and one more in the nightcap. The Shorebirds took the lead with two unearned runs in the eighth inning of the first game. The Suns tied the game the ninth before allowing the winning run without an out.
Delmarva won the game quickly as Michael Rooney led off with a double to left off reliever Chris Manno (1-3). Manno intentionally walked Manny Machado before Flacco doubled off the wall in center field to end the game.
Aaron Swenson (2-0) got the win in relief despite allowing Hagerstown to score the tying run in the ninth.
Brett Newsome led off the ninth with a double to left before giving way to pinch runner Sean Nicol. Nicol took third on a grounder to short for the second out before scoring on a Swenson wild pitch.
Suns starter A.J. Cole resumed the game on Thursday after allowing a leadoff homer to Ty Kelly last Saturday to stake Delmarva (36-32) to the 1-0 lead it enjoyed when the game was suspended. Cole pitched a total of 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out nine before leaving the game with a 4-3 lead.
The Suns didn't waste time retaking the lead for Cole as the game resumed in the second. With Randolph Odebur on first, Jason Martinson hit the first pitch by Delmarva's Jacob Pettit off the wall in center for a double. Newsome tied the game with a bloop RBI single to left.
Cole Leonida hit a drive to left that outfielder Kieron Pope gloved and dropped for a sacrifice fly and error to score Martinson and put runners on second and third. Michael Taylor hit an RBI grounder to first and Leonida scored when third baseman Adam Gaylord errantly threw Blake Kelso's grounder to home to complete the Suns' rally for a 4-1 lead.
The Shorebirds climbed back into the game with two runs off Cole in the fourth, scoring one on a throwing error by Bryce Harper. They added two in the eighth, ignited by a two-out error by Martinson.
In the nightcap, Delmarva scored a run in the first off starter Shane McCatty (0-2) and added two in the fourth and one in the seventh to close out the Suns.
Delmarva took a 1-0 lead in the first when Nicol threw away Gaylord’s two-out grounder to third to score Kelly. Riley Hornback had a two-run single in the fourth to move the Shorebirds to a 3-0 lead.
McCatty, in a spot start, went four innings, allowing three runs on five hits and four walks. Delmarva’s Christian Roth got the win with five innings of five-hit pitching. Only four runners reached scoring position for the Suns in the nightcap.