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Crawdads are having fun at Suns' expense

August 25, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Fun is a relative thing.

The amount of merriment is often a matter of which side of the celebration one stands.

It was hats and horns for Hickory on Thursday as the Crawdads used a fortuitous three-run second inning to build a 5-3 victory and claim a critical four-game series against the Hagerstown Suns at Municipal Stadium.

“Like we have been saying the last three nights, that is a real good club,” said Suns manager Brian Daubach. “They are fun to watch. They really clicked in this series.”

Daubach, the baseball purist, can easily celebrate Hickory’s success. But Daubach, the Suns manager, is probably reaching for a Bromo.

The Suns (71-58, 31-28) lost for the sixth time in the last eight games but remained in fourth place, four games behind Kannapolis in the second-half chase in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division.

Hickory (74-53, 34-25), the first-half champs, moved within a game of the lead.

The Suns’ magic number for elimination — any combination of Kannapolis wins and Hagerstown losses — is down to seven.

The Crawdads used four singles and a couple of Hagerstown miscues in the second inning for the three-run rally that built a 4-1 lead. After that, Hickory’s defense sparkled to take away all the fizz from any possible Suns comeback.

“The breaks aren’t going our way,” Daubach said.

The Crawdads took the momentum away from the Suns in the second with the help of some Hagerstown hospitality. Josh Richmond, Jonathan Roof and Jhonny Gomez loaded the bases with singles to begin problems for Suns starter Matt Swynenberg (6-3).

All three runs scored in Jake Skole’s at-bat. Richmond scored when a pickoff attempt by catcher Adrian Nieto sailed into left field. Roof crossed on a wild pitch before Skole brought home Gomez with an infield single off Swynenberg’s glove.

“It was the same as last night,” said Daubach, pointing back to Wednesday’s 5-2 loss. “(Swynenberg) was pitching well and they knock through three singles. Then we get the error. I don’t know if he slipped, but the throw got behind Cuevas.”

After getting the lead, Hickory snuffed out the Suns’ comeback tries with three quality defensive plays by third baseman Christian Villanueva and shortstop Jurkison Profar.

The two teams swung freely early to tie the game at 1 after one inning.

Hickory broke through against Swynenberg with two outs on back-to-back doubles by Profar and Villanueva.

The Suns answered, starting with Chris Curran’s leadoff bloop single to right off Hickory starter Cody Buckel (8-3). Curran stole second and took third on Blake Kelso’s single before scoring on Adrian Sanchez’s double-play grounder.

Hagerstown moved within 4-3 in the bottom of the second as Nieto drew a one-out walk and moved to third on Mills Rogers’ double to right. Both runners scored when Cuevas lined a single to center.

Hickory padded its lead in the seventh as Kellin Deglan greeted Suns reliever Ryan Demmin with a leadoff homer to right for a 5-3 advantage.

Swynenberg lasted six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out four in the loss. Buckel got the win with five innings of work, allowing three runs on eight hits. He struck out eight.

Nieto had three hits for the Suns.

The Suns have 10 games remaining in the regular season, beginning tonight with a five-game set against Asheville (N.C.). They close the season next weekend in a five-game set with Lakewood.

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