HAGERSTOWN — The Hagerstown Suns have become bullies of the South Atlantic League.
They don’t even show any respect for ’Dads anymore.
The Suns didn’t give the Hickory Crawdads a lick of honor on Monday as they continued a relentless assault on the South Atlantic League lead.
Justin Miller and Cole Leonida had three hits and two RBIs each to give more support than starter Christian Meza needed in a 9-0 shutout victory on Monday at Municipal Stadium.
Hagerstown scored in three of the first four innings to overwhelm Hickory and keep pressure on Northern Division-leading Greensboro.
The Suns (38-24) moved within two games of Greensboro, picking up a half-game of the lead with six games remaining in the first half.
The Grasshoppers (41-22) held a 3-0 lead over Kannapolis when their game was suspended by rain Monday.
Meza (4-1) was golden in his first start of the season. Meza came out of the bullpen and pitched five shutout innings, allowing two hits and no walks while striking out six.
Hagerstown’s offense made sure it was easy.
The Suns took a 1-0 lead off Hickory starter Santo Perez (2-5) in the first.
With one out, Cutter Dykstra beat out an infield chop for a single, stole second and took third on a wild pitch before Jason Martinson picked up his league-leading 62nd RBI by lining a single off the glove of shortstop Hanser Alberto for the lead.
Hagerstown extended the lead to 2-0 in the second as Leonida hit a double to center and scored on Brian Goodwin’s double to right.
Hickory (34-28) failed to slow down the Suns as they scored another two runs in the third.
Matt Skole led off with a homer over the wall in right-center, his 14th to move him into a tie for the SAL lead. Steven Souza Jr. followed with a double to left, before scoring on Miller’s RBI single to left for a 4-0 lead.
Hagerstown expanded the lead to 6-0 with two runs in the fifth as Miller hit a one-out double to left and scored when Leonida tripled to center on a ball that Hickory center fielder Zach Cone lost after it bounced off the wall. Billy Burns served a single to left to score Leonida.
The Crawdads changed pitchers in the sixth, but didn’t change their luck.
Hagerstown scored three times against Hickory’s Chris Hanna in the sixth. Skole hit a one-out single to center, Souza walked and both advanced on a passed ball. Caleb Ramsey drove in Skole on a grounder to first, followed by an RBI single by Miller and Leonida’s run-scoring double to post the 9-0 lead.
Chris McKenzie and Pedro Encarnacion pitched the final four innings to complete the five-hit shutout. Hickory only managed to get two base runners as far as second base.
Martinson and Skole finished with two hits each in the Suns’ 14-hit attack.