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Suns fail to close gap on Grasshoppers

May 22, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — The Greensboro Grasshoppers left the Hagerstown Suns in their shadow yet again.

Since May 10, the first-place Grasshoppers have led the second-place Suns by six games in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division. They entered Tuesday’s doubleheader in that situation.

They left it that way, too.

Greensboro exploded for eight runs in the first two innings of the nightcap and rode the early outburst to an 8-4 victory. It came just after the Suns rallied for a 5-4 victory in 10 innings in the opener, the completion of Monday’s suspended game.

The Grasshoppers (31-13) showed why they lead the North with their consistent hitting, collecting 13 hits in the nightcap. The Suns (24-18) showed their tenacity with two comebacks in the opener to stay on Greensboro’s heels.

The Suns won the rain-suspended opener on Adrian Nieto’s RBI single to right to score Matt Skole for the victory. The Grasshoppers took the nightcap behind a three-run home run by Matt Smith — three of his six RBIs on the day — and Josh Adams’ grand slam.

Matt Skole greeted Greensboro reliever Daniel Oliver with a one-out double to left-center in the 10th and took third on Steven Souza’s bloop single to right. Nieto followed by driving a shot to the right-field wall to win the game.

Nieto finished with two hits and two RBIs to make a winner of Aaron Barrett (3-1).

The Grasshoppers entered the restart of Monday’s suspended game with a 1-0 lead with runners on first and second. Christian Meza replaced starter Nathan Karns and issued a walk to Austin Barnes to load the bases before Ryan Rieger hit a fielder’s choice to score Wilfredo Gimenez to give Greensboro a 2-0 lead.

The Suns came back in the bottom of the inning to tie that game against Greensboro reliever Josh Hodges. Souza led off with a single to left and scored when Nieto doubled into the left-field corner. After advancing on Caleb Ramsey’s sacrifice bunt, Justin Miller singled to right to knot the game at 2.

After the quick flurry, Meza and Hodges took control of the game. Meza pitched 4 2/3 innings of no-hit ball — his longest stint of the season — before giving way Bobby Lucas to start the seventh.

After allowing the two runs, Hodges held the Suns hitless for the last 5 1/3 innings but issued three walks.

Greensboro took the lead in the seventh, using a pair of walks from Lucas to set up Smith’s RBI single for a 3-2 lead.

The Suns claimed a 4-3 lead in the eighth when Ramsey hit a two-out, bases-loaded dribbler down the first-base line. Greensboro reliever Brad Mincey made an attempt at fielding the ball before heading to cover first base. Reiger scooped up the ball but shoveled it over Mincey’s shoulder for an infield single and an error to put the Suns ahead.

Greensboro tied the game in the ninth against Barrett on a two-out RBI double by Rieger.

Still, the Suns entered the second game just five games behind Greensboro, the closest they’d been in two weeks. In the nightcap, the Grasshoppers got the game back.

Greensboro took a 3-0 lead in the first off Suns starter Brian Dupra (2-4), who served up a three-run homer to Smith. Barnes hit a one-out single and moved to third on a wild pitch and a passed ball before Brent Keys walked. Smith capped the inning with his drive to right.

The Suns came right back with two runs in the bottom of the inning with three consecutive hits off Grasshoppers starter Greg Nappo. Brian Goodwin hit a shot off Nappo for a single and scored on Billy Burns’ double to right.

Jason Martinson followed with a single to center to cut the deficit to 3-2.

The Grasshoppers blew the game open by sending 10 hitters to the plate in a five-run second as Dupra continued to struggle.

Smith drew a bases-loaded walk before Adams blasted a grand slam over the left-field fence for an 8-2 lead. Aaron Senne followed with a single that ended Dupra’s night after 1 2/3 innings. He was charged with the eight earned runs on six hits and four walks.

The Suns got two runs back in the bottom of the fourth against Greensboro reliever and eventual winner James Nygren (2-1).

Brett Newsome hit a one-out solo home run to right followed by a double by Hendry Jimenez. Jimenez scored on Caleb Ramsey’s single to right to cut the deficit to 8-4.

Burns led the Suns with two hits.

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