HAGERSTOWN — Kevin Keyes came through for the Hagerstown Suns on Saturday, but it wasn’t without a catch.
Or a lot of hard work, either.
The Suns outfielder hit two home runs — including a key three-run shot in the fourth inning — to lift Hagerstown to a 7-3 victory over Delmarva before 3,499 fans at Municipal Stadium. Keyes’ three hits and four RBIs were big, but everything he did before connecting for his hits set the stage.
“I have been working hard on my swing and it really felt great today,” Keyes said. “But that catch I made in the (second) inning was a big boost. It really got me going.”
Home runs aside, Keyes made a key grab for the Suns that went a long way to limiting Delmarva to a two-run rally in the second. Justin Dalles hit a line drive to right that looked to be destined for the fence, but Keyes caught up to the ball and contorted his body to grab the ball for a sacrifice fly.
Then it was time for the bat to take over.
Hagerstown trailed 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth against Delmarva starter Luis Noel (4-7).
David Freitas started the rally with a one-out double off the wall in left center.
After Jason Martinson drew a two-out walk, Keyes tied the game by clubbing Noel’s 3-2 pitch over the wall in right for his second home run of the season.
“I have been working with (hitting coach Marlon Anderson) every day and trying to keep short to the ball and my hands inside on the swing,” Keyes said. “Getting the swing is all about feeling and it was feeling great today.”
It started the Suns (39-30) on a run of seven unanswered runs to sweep away the Shorebirds. Despite the victory, the Suns were officially eliminated in the South Atlantic League Northern Division title chase by Hickory’s 5-3 win over Charleston.
“That was a huge hit,” said Suns manager Brian Daubach. “We have been talking about not getting the job done with runners in scoring position and he comes through. I’m happy for Kevin. He has worked his butt off.”
The Suns took a 4-3 lead in the fifth with the help of Noel after Michael Taylor led off with a double down the left-field line. Noel dropped the ball while standing on the rubber for a balk to advance Taylor, who scored on a passed ball by Dalles.
Hagerstown greeted Delmarva reliever Ashur Tolliver with back-to-back home runs with two outs in the sixth. Martinson lined a shot off the left-field foul pole, followed by Keyes’ second homer of the game, a shot over the wall in right center to move the Suns to a 6-3 lead.
Keyes, who entered the game hitting .133, now has 11 hits on the season, including three homers and five doubles.
Hagerstown tacked on another run in the seventh against reliever D.J. Ferguson. Sean Nicol was hit by a pitch and took second on a grounder before scoring on Blake Kelso’s single to center for the 7-3 lead.
Delmarva got on the scoreboard first, taking a 2-0 lead with the help of an error by Suns starter Taylor Jordan in the second inning. He escaped by allowing two runs after loading the bases with none out on Dalles’ fly and a Ty Kelly grounder.
Kelly hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth to give Delmarva a 3-0 lead. The Suns committed errors in each inning, which led to each rally.
Jordan (7-3) went six innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits while striking out two. Wilson Eusebio came on in the seventh and pitched three scoreless innings for his third save.
Freitas had two hits for his 10th multihit outing in his last 18 games.
Hagerstown’s Bryce Harper wasn’t in the lineup. He was given the night off to nurse a sore thumb.