'Hoppers put Suns' party on hold

August 30, 2012

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Hagerstown Suns were forced to find out if champagne travels well on Thursday.

Greensboro changed any plans the Suns had of celebrating the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division second-half title with a 12-2 decision.

The loss, combined with second-place Hickory’s victory, leaves the Suns (80-53, 38-26) up by two games with four games to play.

The Grasshoppers, the North’s first-half champs, smacked Suns pitching around, scoring in six of eight innings.

Josh Adams drove in three runs and Brent Keys and Matt Smith had three hits each to lead Greensboro.

Billy Burns had three hits for Hagerstown. Suns hitters struck out 14 times, nine of them coming against Greensboro starter Andrw Heaney (1-2).

Greensboro got off to an early start against Suns starter Brian Rauh (3-3) to grab a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

Rauh issued a walk to leadoff hitter Austin Nola to open the inning, then the Grasshoppers got proactive.

Austin Barnes, Keys, Josh Adams and Aaron Senne all singled to produce two runs and keep the bases loaded. Smith produced the third run with a grounder to third for the first out.

The Grasshopper chased Rauh in the third without an out in similar fashion to the first inning for a 5-0 lead.

Adams walked and took second on a passed ball before Senne walked. Smith and Ryan Rieger each hit RBI singles to end Rauh’s day in favor of Christian Meza.

Greensboro touched Meza for a run in the fourth. Keys led off with a single and came home on Adams’ two-run homer to center for a 7-0 lead.

Leonard Hollins came on for Hagerstown in the fifth and allowed a two-out RBI infield single to Keys to give Greensboro an eight-run lead.

The Suns showed some life in the sixth against Heaney as Burns reached on a one-out single before Khayyan Norfork doubled. Justin Miller hit a two-run single to right to cut the deficit to 8-2.

The Grasshoppers got one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning as Senne led off with a double off Hollins, who left the game after the play with an injury.

Colin Bates came on in relief and immediately allowed a single to Smith that moved Senne to third. Senne scored when Wilfredo Gimenez reached base on a one-out error by shortstop Bryce Ortega.

Greensboro tacked on a final three runs against Suns reliever Wilson Eusebio in the eighth. Ryan McIntyre hit a two-run homer and Austin Barnes added an RBI single to close the scoring.

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