HAGERSTOWN — There was only one thing more dramatic than Alex Meyer’s first start for the Hagerstown Suns on Saturday.
It was Aaron Barrett’s finish.
Meyer, the Washington Nationals’ top selection in the 2011 draft, threw five sparkling shutout innings in his professional pitching debut to put the Suns ahead. But it was the two-inning save by Barrett that kept them there in a 4-3 win over the West Virginia Power before 691 fans at chilly Municipal Stadium.
Meyer was long gone by the time Barrett came on the scene, but he was a sight for sore eyes for Hagerstown.
Barrett entered the game in the eighth with two on and none out and two runs already in. In quick fashion, he got the Suns out of the inning with the tying run at third base en route to preserving the victory.
Hagerstown (2-1) held a 4-1 lead entering the eighth when the Power got to Suns reliever Alex Kreis to make things interesting.
Jodaneli Carvajal led off the inning with a double to left-center and scored when Junior Sosa tripled to right. Sosa rounded the bases when second baseman Hendry Jimenez fired the relay throw into the left-field seats to move the Power to within a run.
Alen Hanson reached on a fielding error by Jimenez before Josh Bell walked to end Kreis’ night.
Barrett preserved the lead when he came on to get Willy Garcia to ground into a double play before striking out Greg Polanco to leave Hanson stranded at third.
Barrett used a strikeout and a double play in the ninth to earn his first save.
Barrett’s outing made sure Meyer’s efforts didn’t go to waste.
The University of Kentucky product was in total control in his five-inning stint, allowing no runs on just two hits — harmless singles in the second and third innings — without a walk and striking out four in his first outing since being drafted. He retired the last eight Power hitters before being lifted for the Suns bullpen.
The 6-foot-9 Meyer towered while standing on the mound, making him look all the more imposing.
And even though he possesses a mid-90 mph fastball, Meyer seemed to grasp the Nationals’ pitching philosophy of pitching to contact and using the defense to conserve pitches.
Besides the four strikeouts, Meyer retired the Power on six grounders and five flies as only one runner reached scoring position.
The Suns drew first blood in the fourth inning as Jason Martinson led off by drawing a walk off West Virginia starter Matt Benedict before taking second on a passed ball. Hagerstown third baseman Matt Skole continued to show the ability to hit in the clutch by stroking a broken-bat liner to left to score Martinson for a 1-0 lead. It was Skole’s sixth RBI in three games.
The Suns picked up a pair of unearned runs in the fifth inning to move to a 3-0 lead in a rally that started with two outs.
After Benedict struck out the first two Suns of the inning, Jimenez drew a walk and took second on a wild pitch. West Virginia squandered a chance to get out of the inning unharmed when first baseman Jose Osuna couldn’t come up with Brian Goodwin’s grounder to put runners on first and third.
Jimenez scored when Martinson grounded a single into the hole at short for a 2-0 lead that chased the tiring Benedict.
Trent Stevenson came on for the Power in relief and was greeted by a J.P. Ramirez grounder that Carvajal threw away at third to score Goodwin.
In Benedict’s 4 2/3 innings, he allowed three unearned runs on three hits and three walks while striking out seven.
West Virginia got a run back in the top of the sixth against Suns reliever Bobby Lucas as Huston drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on Garcia’s first-pitch double off the center-field wall to cut the deficit to 3-1.
The Suns added an insurance run in the seventh on an RBI double by Goodwin.
Skole finished with three of the Suns’ seven hits.