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Suns take what they're given

August 23, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Everyone loves freebies. Not even the Hagerstown Suns could turn down outs-off coupons.

Adrian Nieto hit a key bases-clearing double and the Suns took advantage of three Hickory errors to score five unearned runs on Tuesday to notch a 13-8 win over the Crawdads to revive their run for a second-half title.

Hagerstown scored in six of eight innings, including eight runs in the first four innings off Hickory’s errors to end a three-game losing streak.

“For about the last week, everyone seems to be playing good defense,” said Hagerstown manager Brian Daubach. “They made a couple of errors and we took advantage of them. Both teams were a little sloppy with wild pitches and passed balls. Luckily we came out on the right end.”

Hickory committed errors in the second and fourth innings to prolong innings for starting pitcher Luke Jackson and he paid with four unearned runs.

The Suns moved within one game of Hickory for second place in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division. Hagerstown was 3 1/2 behind division-leading Kannapolis, which was tied in the ninth at press time.

The Suns held a 5-3 lead in the fourth inning when Nieto blew the game open with a two-out, bases-loaded double after the inning was prolonged by a throwing error by Hickory third baseman Christian Villanueva. The drive to the wall in left center cleared the bases for the 8-3 lead.

“That kind of broke it open,” Daubach said. “Adrian has the tendency to overswing in that situation and he stayed within himself and didn’t try to pull the ball.”

Nieto also added a solo homer in the sixth to finish with four RBIs.

The Crawdads got a run off of Slaten in the first, ignited as Jake Skole hit the first pitch into the right-field corner for a triple. Skole scored with one out and Odubel Herrera at the plate when catcher Adrian Nieto fired an errant pickoff throw into left field for the 1-0 lead.

Slaten allowed two more hits in his fourth appearance with the Suns, leaving the game after one inning, allowing the one earned run on three hits while striking out two. Slaten is coming back from a sore left elbow, which landed him on the disabled list in late June.

The Crawdads continued to apply the pressure as Hagerstown sent Matt Grace in to relieve Slaten. Grace was touched for three singles and a walk, capped by Herrera’s two-run single with two outs.

Grace shut down Hickory the rest of the way to earn his league-leading 12th victory, his first in relief.

The Suns got back into the game in the bottom of the second against Jackson with the help of a crucial Crawdads error. Nieto led off with a single and took third on Brett Newsome’s single to right, to set up Justino Cuevas’ sacrifice fly.

With two outs, Jackson got Michael Taylor to pop to short right field, where second baseman Herrera went back to make the play but let the ball pop out of his glove to put runners on second and third. Chris Curran took advantage of the break and tied the game at 3-3 with a two-run single to left.

The Suns grabbed a 5-3 lead with the help of another Hickory error in the third. Jason Martinson led off with a single and took third when Jackson threw a pickoff throw down the right-field line. After Nieto walked, Newsome hit a sacrifice fly down the left-field line to score Martinson with the go-ahead run. Justino Cuevas scored Nieto with a bloop double to right for the two-run advantage.

Jackson lasted 3 2/3 innings, allowing eight runs, but only four were earned.

Hickory picked up a run in the fifth on an RBI single by Josh Richmond to cut the deficit to four runs.

The Suns added a run in the seventh as Cuevas led off with a double and Wade Moore walked. The runners advanced on a passed ball and a wild pitch to make it a 10-4 lead.

The Crawdads scored off Suns reliever Greg Holt, starting a rally when Alejandro Selen reached on a wild pitch on his strikeout. Hickory loaded the bases and scored on Jhonny Gomez’s sacrifice fly to center field.

The Suns capped their scoring with three runs in the eighth, capped by a two-run double by Taylor.

The Crawdads scored three runs against Suns reliever Sam Brown in the ninth.

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