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Tourists end game, playoff hopes for Suns

August 30, 2011

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The end of the line came as abruptly as the end of the game for the Hagerstown Suns.

Corey Dickerson hit a pinch-hit, walkoff two-run home run off of Ben Graham with one out in the ninth inning on Monday to lead the Asheville Tourists to a come-from-behind 12-11 victory over Hagerstown to eliminated the Suns from playoff contention.

The loss puts the Suns (71-32, 31-32) 6 1/2 games behind Northern Division-leading Hickory with six games remaining in the season. The Suns have lost six straight and 10 of their last 12.

Once again, the Suns came out on the wrong end of a wild affair with the Tourists in cozy McCormack Stadium. Asheville has outscored Hagerstown 55-28 in the first four games of the five-game series. The Tourists have hit 14 home runs in the stretch.

Asheville scored two runs in each of the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to comeback from an 11-6 deficit for the victory.

Graham (4-4) replaced Dean Weaver, Hagerstown’s fourth pitcher of the game, in the ninth. He allowed a one-out single to left to Joey Wong before Dickerson was called to bat for Dominic Altobelli.

Dickerson hit Graham’s second pitch over the right-field wall for his 31st home run on the season.

The Suns battled out of a 5-0 hole in the first inning to take a 11-6 lead by the middle of the seventh before the wheels came off. Hagerstown sent nine batters to the plate in the fifth inning and scored four runs with two outs to take a 6-5 lead.

After Asheville tied the game in the bottom of the inning, Jason Martinson hit his 17th homer of the season, a two-run shot off Tourists’ reliever Taylor Reid, to put the Suns ahead 8-6.

The Suns increased the lead to 11-6 in the seventh on RBI singles by Adrian Sanchez, David Freitas and Martinson before Asheville launched its comeback.

Hagerstown starter A.J. Cole struck out nine in 3 2/3 innings but left the game while trailing 5-2. Cole allowed five runs in the first inning, but struck out the side in each of his first three innings, including eight straight.

Asheville sent 10 hitters to the plate to piece together the five-run first.

Isaiah Froneberger (2-1) pitched two shutout innings to earn the victory in relief of starter Josh Mueller.

Chandler Laurent led Asheville with three hits and four RBIs, including a two-run home run in the seventh.

Sanchez went 5-for-6 for the Suns, while Michael Taylor and Blake Kelso had three hits each. Martinson drove in three runs.

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