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Grasshoppers' big hits loom larger than those of Suns

May 23, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — On a normal day, Caleb Ramsey would have been a hero in epic proportions.

But Wednesday wasn’t a normal day. Josh Adams and the Greensboro Grasshoppers made sure of that.

Adams drove in three runs, including the tiebreaker in a three-run 10th inning, to lead the Grasshoppers to an 8-6 victory that gained the edge in a critical three-game series before 1,518 knowledge thirsty fans during an Education Day morning matinee at Municipal Stadium.

Adams’ solo home run and two RBI singles tarnished Ramsey’s two home runs and five RBIs as Greensboro won the series, two games to one. It allowed the Grasshoppers (32-13), who lead the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division, to extend their advantage to seven games over the second-place Suns (24-19).

Hagerstown held a 2-1 lead through seven innings on the strength of Ramsey’s two-run shot in the second. But the Suns’ bullpen allowed seven runs — four in the eighth and three in the 10th with all coming after two were out — to let the game get away.

The Suns’ attempt to conserve pitching backfired as they tried to extend outings of relievers Chris McKenzie and Travis Henke. Hagerstown is facing a stretch of seven games in the next five days, including doubleheaders Thursday and Saturday at Lakewood to make up two games that were rained out in Hagerstown earlier this season.

The Grasshoppers showed the confident and patient side that comes with a .711 winning percentage as they rallied for the lead in the eighth.

McKenzie seemed to have everything under control after Ryan McIntyre reached base on a fielders’ choice to record the second out.

Austin Barnes and Brent Keys each singled to bring home McIntyre with the tying run before Ryan Rieger walked to load the bases.

Then, it unraveled.

McKenzie uncorked a wild pitch that rolled just to the left of home plate, just far enough away for Barnes to score on a head-first slide. Then Keys scored on catcher Adrian Nieto’s passed ball. Adams completed the rally with a line single up the middle for the sudden three-run lead to end McKenzie’s outing.

Henke made his Suns debut to get the last out of the inning. Henke joined Hagerstown’s roster on Tuesday when reliever Todd Simko was placed on the disabled list.

The Suns were suddenly down but not out.

Jason Martinson opened the bottom of the inning with a single to left and Matt Skole drew a walk against Greensboro reliever Scott Lyman (1-0). After two were out, Ramsey tied the game with a three-run homer — his fifth — that cleared the fence in right.

The Grasshoppers put the game away with a three-run 10th against Henke (0-1), again starting in the most innocent of fashion.

Barnes reached on a fielders’ choice and Keys singled before Adams hit a two-out RBI single to put the Grasshoppers on top. After a wild pitch advanced the runners, Aaron Senne capped the rally with a two-run single to right for an 8-5 lead.

The Suns called on second baseman Hendry Jimenez to take the mound and record the final out of the inning.

Matt Skole produced the Suns’ run in the 10th with a solo homer to right.

The late-inning shenanigans ruined a pair of quality starts for both teams.

Hagerstown’s Alex Meyer lasted five innings, allowing one run on one hit with two walks and eight strikeouts. Greensboro’s Charlie Lowell went six innings, allowing two runs on three hits with four walks and six strikeouts.

Ramsey gave the Suns the 2-0 lead with a two-run homer that curled just inside the right-field foul pole, just after Nieto drew a one-out walk.

Adams got a run back — and broke up Meyer’s no-hitter — with a two-out solo homer to right to cut the deficit in half. It was Adams’ second homer in two games, including the grand slam he hit on Tuesday in the Grasshoppers’ 8-4 victory.

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