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Suns crash in loss, rush to win

August 08, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg leaves the mound Sunday after reaching his pitch limit in the second inning. Hagerstown Suns manager Brian Daubach, center, made the move. Catcher David Freitas looks on.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Adrenaline is a great thing. The only problem is it doesn’t last.

The Hagerstown Suns got a huge shot of the natural Red Bull on Sunday when Stephen Strasburg make a rehabilitation start against Greensboro. But when the Washington Nationals starter left, so did the rush.

The Suns squandered a 5-1 lead and then the game as Greensboro pinch hitter Aaron Dudley hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh to lead the Grasshoppers to a 7-5 victory in the first game of a doubleheader before a packed crowd of 5,758 at Municipal Stadium.

The Suns returned in a more relaxed mode in the nightcap as Michael Taylor drove in two runs — including an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh — to give Hagerstown a 6-5 victory and a split.

Strasburg’s start not only was a huge lift for attendance, but it stoked up the Suns for doubleheader in the dog days of summer. It didn’t hurt Strasburg, either, as he made his first professional start since having an elbow ligament replacement — known as Tommy John surgery — on Sept. 3.

“When you’ve got the adrenaline going out there, you don’t really know how you’re going to feel as far as being able to throw the ball where you want to throw it,” Strasburg said. “I went out there and it seemed like once they said ‘Play ball,’ I kind of just got that feeling back real quick.”

The Grasshoppers got a run and three hits off Strasburg in his 1 1/3-inning, 31-pitch performance. Jacob Realmuto hit a one-out home run to right to give the Grasshoppers a 1-0 lead before the Nationals’ star was lifted from the game by Suns manager Brian Daubach because of his pitch count.

“That was the hardest part,” Strasburg said. “I wanted to go two innings. I wanted them to let me go, but they wouldn’t.”

The Suns (62-50, 22-20 second half) came back and gave Strasburg a no-decision by scoring five runs off Greensboro starter Alex Caldera in the second.

Kevin Keyes led off with a double down the left-field line and took third on Jason Martinson’s single to set up Sean Nicol’s one-out RBI single. Wade Moore drew a walk to load the bases before Blake Kelso drew a two-out walk to score Martinson.

Adrain Sanchez cleared the bases with a double to right center for the 5-1 lead.

Greensboro got a run back in the third off Hagerstown’s A.J. Cole on doubles by Marcello Ozuna and Mark Canha to cut the deficit to 5-2. The Grasshopppers added a run in the fifth as Ozuna hit a second double and scored on Christian Yelich’s single behind the second-base bag.

Greensboro tied the game on Ryan Fisher’s two-run shot in the sixth off Cole before Dudley capped the comeback with his two-run shot off reliever Wilson Eusebio (0-7) to win the game.

The nightcap was a see-saw battle with the Suns winning in the last at-bat.

Hagerstown took a 3-0 lead in the second off Greenboro starter Gregory Nappo on Adrian Nieto’s RBI double and Nicol’s two-run homer to left.

Greensboro tied the game in the third against Suns starter Matt Grace, who pitched 6 1/3 innings, on successive run-scoring singles by Ozuna, Yelich and Mark Canha.

The Grasshoppers took a 4-3 lead in the fourth as Realmuto led off with a home run.

Hagerstown tied the game in the fourth on Jason Martinson’s leadoff home run to left. The Suns took a 5-4 lead in the fifth when Taylor hit an RBI triple.

Greensboro tied the game in the seventh when Fisher tripled and scored on Joseph Bonadonna’s single.

Justino Cuevas set the stage for Taylor by reaching on a one-out double against Greensboro reliever Miguel Mejia (0-2).

Shane McCatty (2-3) pitched the final 2/3 inning to earn the win.

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