HAGERSTOWN — Coaches like to say “hitting is contagious.”
If that’s true, the Hagerstown Suns should have been quarantined on Friday.
The Suns’ offense reached epidemic proportions with 19 hits — including nine in a nine-run fourth inning — to pound Lakewood into submission in a 15-2 rout before 872 fans at Municipal Stadium.
The first eight hitters to face BlueClaws starter Lino Martinez in the fourth hit safely and scored as the Suns blew the game wide open. Brett Newsome’s solo homer to right center ended Martinez’s night to the tune of 12 runs on 14 hits in 3 1/3 innings.
The 15 runs were the most Lakewood had allowed in a game in the team’s 12-year history.
Hagerstown won its second straight game, as every hitter in the lineup had at least one hit. The Suns blasted four home runs. There were also a few strange hops and freak popups dropping in for hits to add to the onslaught.
The top four hitters in the batting order — Cutter Dykstra, Caleb Ramsey, Jason Martinson and Matt Skole — combined to go 11-for-22 with nine RBIs and eight runs scored.
Dykstra went 4-for-5 — two singles and two doubles — with four runs scored, while Skole was 4-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and four RBIs to lift his South Atlantic League-leading total to 22 RBIs.
Hagerstown’s hitting overshadowed the best outing of the year by Suns starter Wirken Estevez (2-0), who allowed two runs on six hits over six innings while striking out a career-high nine.
The Suns (8-8) entered the fourth with a 3-1 lead before they blew Lakewood off its hinges.
It started with Newsome and Bryce Ortega singling and Billy Burns loading the bases with a bunt down the third-base line. Dykstra and Ramsey followed with singles to give the Suns a 5-1 lead.
Martinson kept the rally rolling — albeit accidently — by popping up to left, where Lakewood’s Brian Painter lost it in the high sky. The ball fell 20 feet to his right for a two-run single and a 7-1 lead.
Skole tagged an RBI double before Adrian Nieto unloaded a three-run homer over the left-field fence to end the string of nine straight hits for an 11-1 lead. Martinez finally got an out, but paid for it with Newsome’s solo shot to finish his night. Ryan Sasaki came on to get the BlueClaws out of the inning.
Needless to say, the rest of the game was a formality.
The Suns took a 1-0 lead in the first as Dykstra led off with an infield single against Martinez. Dykstra stole second and scored when Skole’s popup fell between the shortstop and two outfielders in short left field.
Hagerstown jumped to a 3-0 lead in the third as the top of the order came through again.
Dykstra hit a leadoff double down the left-field line and took third on Caleb Ramsey’s flyout to center before scoring on Jason Martinson’s grounder to short. Skole followed with his third home run — his second in as many days — on a line drive over the right-field fence
Estevez had a no-hitter for 3 1/3 innings until Pointer hit a solo homer with one out in the fourth to put Lakewood on the scoreboard.
It didn’t matter, as the Suns rolled out the devastating bottom of the fourth to end any doubts.
Lakewood (6-10) got its other run on John Hill’s RBI single in the fifth to cut the deficit to 12-2.
The Suns got the run back in the bottom of the inning, using doubles by Dykstra and Skole to restore the 11-run lead.
Hagerstown closed the scoring with two runs in the eighth. J.P. Ramirez became the last Sun to get a hit with a homer over the right-field wall before Ramsey drove in the final run.
Bobby Lucas relieved Estevez and allowed two hits in two innings. Greg Holt pitched a scoreless ninth to finish the game.