Suns Notebook: Hickory puts wood to Suns

August 27, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI

Call it natural balance. Every ying has its yang.

Every hero seems to have its adversary … or adversaries. It’s a relationship that keeps things honest and exciting while being extremely aggravating, especially when things don’t go the right way.

Superman had Lex Luthor, who had kryptonyte.

Batman couldn’t go anywhere without Riddler, Joker and Penguin … among others.

A trio of foes — Greensboro, Kannapolis and Hickory — has all but Bam! Zonk! and Splat! the Hagerstown Suns out of South Atlantic League playoff contention.

The trio has arguably kept the Washington Nationals affiliated team as playoff contenders rather than assured postseason participants.

The Suns led the Northern Division for much of the first half before falling two games short of the title.

Now Hagerstown is on life support again. The Suns are tied for fourth place and four games back heading into Saturday with nine games remaining in the regular season.

“We’ll go to Asheville and hopefully win the series,” Brian Daubach said Thursday after a 5-3 loss to Hickory. “We’ll probably have to win four of the five games … We’ll probably have to do that with both (of the remaining) series. We’ll see what happens.”

What happened was the Suns put themselves in dire straits by losing six of eight, dropping the majority of consecutive four-game series at Kannapolis and at home against Hickory. That abruptly ended a seven-game win streak that put Hagerstown back into contention in second place, just two games back.

But the Suns were a combined 14-24 against Greensboro (6-9), Kannapolis (4-6) and Hickory (4-9) this season. Meanwhile, Hagerstown is 57-35 (.620) — 22 games over .500 — against the rest of SAL. And for the sake of symmetry and neatness, Hagerstown is a combined 7-12 against their Terrible Trio in each half.

While Greensboro has been like a pebble in the spikes, Kannapolis has been more like a thorn in the side for the Suns. But, Hickory … Hickory has been a pain below the back of the belt.

“That’s a pretty good team,” Daubach said Wednesday. “(Hickory) has a lot of talent, both hitting and pitching. We’ve seen some of their good arms the last couple of days.”

Hickory teased the Suns in last week’s series, allowing early leads before the Crawdads came back and then suffocated Hagerstown with defense and pitching over the last six innings of each game.

Here’s some added proof of Hickory’s hold over Hagerstown.

 Second baseman Odubel Herrera, shortstop Jurckison Profar and third baseman Christian Villanueva — Hickory’s second, third and fourth hitters — hit a combined .376 (41-for-125) against the Suns. They managed just eight extra-base hits, but made up for it by stealing 16 bases.

 Hickory batted .298 against Hagerstown pitching, dwarfing the Suns’ more-than-respectable .280 mark.

 The Suns outscored Hickory 83-78 in the 13 games, including a 55-23 edge over the Crawdads in the four wins. Hickory scored 55 runs in their nine wins over Hagerstown, defeating the Suns by an average of 6.1-3.1.

The Crawdads were the most powerful adversary of all. They had the power to make the Suns set.

Bob Parasiliti covers the Hagerstown Suns for The Herald-Mail.

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