HAGERSTOWN — The Hagerstown Suns found out why every single inning and every single out is precious Saturday.
For that matter, so did the Delmarva Shorebirds.
Delmarva proved how valuable the late innings are during the first game of a doubleheader as it scored eight runs in the final two innings to steal a heartbreaking 8-6 victory away from the Suns.
The Suns came back behind a strong start by Alex Meyer to post a 7-2 victory in the nightcap.
For the first 15 outs of the seven-inning affair, the Shorebirds were a nonfactor. Suns starter Kylin Turnbull was masterful, allowing two hits in five shutout innings and cruising with a 6-0 lead.
Then came the final two innings. The Shorebirds scored five runs in the sixth and were basically handed three in the seventh — including the tying and go-ahead runs on a bases-loaded wild pitch by Chris McKenzie — to literally take the game away from the Suns (31-23).
The loss was particularly devastating to the second-place Suns, who fell seven games behind Greensboro in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division race with only 15 games remaining in the first half.
The major unraveling came in the top of the seventh with the Suns trying defend a 6-5 lead.
McKenzie, who got the Suns and Turnbull out of the sixth with the one-run lead, loaded the bases immediately. Gabriel Lino led off with a single, Conner Narron walked and Tom Wiengardner singled to fill the bags with none out.
With Mikey Planeta at the plate, McKenzie uncorked a breaking ball in the dirt that skipped away from catcher Cole Leonida. Lino scored the tying run and Narron came around to give Delmarva the lead when Leonida’s throw to the plate got past McKenzie. Mychal Givens singled to score Winegardner with the insurance run for the 8-6 lead.
David Baker, who pitched the final three innings in relief of Delmarva starter Miguel Chalas, shut down the Suns in order in the bottom of the seventh to secure the win.
The Shorebirds got back into the game in the sixth by finally getting to Turnbull, keyed by a three-run home run by Brenden Webb.
It was a painful end to what was a great beginning for the Suns.
Hagerstown took the lead with three runs in the second off Chalas. Steven Souza Jr. led off with a single to left and took second on Caleb Ramsey’s groundout to short. He went to third on Justin Miller’s bloop single over the glove of Delmarva second baseman Nicky Delmonico and scored on Leonida’s groundout to short.
Billy Burns drove in Miller with a two-out single to center and scored from first on Brian Goodwin’s double over Planeta’s head in center field. Burns rounded third and headed home as shortstop Givens’ relay throw went up the third-base line. Burns collided with Lino — Delmarva’s catcher — and knocked the ball loose before falling on the plate for the 3-0 lead.
Hagerstown doubled its lead with three unearned runs in the fourth. Miller reached on a fielder’s choice grounder before Leonida reached on Givens’ fielding error and Burns walked to load the bases.
The Suns cashed in when Cutter Dykstra dribbled a grounder down the third-base line to leg out a two-out, RBI infield single. Jason Martinson followed with a two-run single to left to give Hagerstown a 6-0 lead.
McKenzie (1-2) took the loss, allowing three runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Baker (2-2) earned the win with three hitless innings and four strikeouts.