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Suns look ahead to playoffs after final game loss

September 03, 2012

HAGERSTOWN — The Hagerstown Suns didn’t have their usual late-inning magic on Sunday.

But this time, it didn’t really matter.

Asheville got all three of its runs and 10 of its 11 hits in the first four innings and made it all standup, thanks to the conversion of a play at the plate in the eighth inning to notch a 3-2 win over the Suns on Monday in the final game of the regular season.

Despite the outcome, both teams had already punched their tickets to the South Atlantic League playoffs, which begin on Wednesday.

The Suns won the Northern Division’s second-half title and will host first-half champs Greensboro on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. in the first game of a best-of-3 divisional series.

Hagerstown (82-55) finishes with two straight losses but posted a 40-28 record in the second half to win the title by three games over Hickory. The Suns’ 82 wins are their most since they went 83-57 as a San Francisco affiliate in 2001.

 Meanwhile, Asheville, the Southern Division’s first-half champions, will travel to Rome, Ga. to start their three-game set with the Braves.

The game was tied at 2-2 in the eighth — a situation that Hagerstown has thrived on all season.

Caleb Ramsey reached on a one-out single against reliever Seth Willoughby and tried to score on Brett Newsome’s double to right field. But Asheville right fielder Jared Simon got the ball to second baseman Taylor Featherston, who relayed to catcher Ryan Casteel to gun Ramsey down at the plate.

Asheville took a 2-0 lead in the second inning off Suns starter Taylor Jordan (3-4) on a pair of two-out RBI singles by David Kandilas and Trevor Story.

The Suns got a run back in the bottom of the inning against Asheville starter Tyler Gagnon. Brett Newsome led off with a single and took third on Hendry Jimenez’s double before scoring on Cole Leonida’s single to left.

The Tourists scored what proved to be the winning run in the third on singles by Featherston, Tyler Massey and Simon.

Hagerstown cut the deficit to 3-2 in the sixth on doubles by Jimenez and Newsome.

Bill Rankin (1-1) got the win for Asheville with 1 1/3 innings of relief.

Jordan allowed three runs on 10 hits in four innings before five Suns relievers closed out the game.

Newsome finished with three hits, including two doubles.

Former Suns sweep honors

Matt Skole and Nathan Karns, a pair of players who started the season with the Suns, were voted organizational players of the year by the Washington Nationals.

Skole spent most of the season playing third base for Hagerstown before being promoted to Potomac on Aug. 14.

Skole was voted the South Atlantic League’s most valuable player after hitting .286 and leading the league in home runs (27), walks (94), slugging percentage (.574) and on-base percentage (.438). He was second in the SAL in RBIs (92).

He finished his season hitting .292 with 28 doubles, 27 homers and 104 RBIs.

Karns spent the early season with the Suns before heading to Potomac.

He was 11-4 overall with a 2.17 ERA and 148 strikeouts in 115 2/3 innings. He was 3-0 with the Suns in 11 games with a 2.03 ERA and two saves.

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