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Mooneyham gets his grip as Suns win

April 12, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — For Brett Mooneyham, it was all about efficiency.

Everything was simple once he got on top of things.

Mooneyham allowed one hit over six innings — after making a minor pitching adjustment — to pave the way for the Hagerstown Suns’ 4-0 victory over Delmarva on Friday before a hearty 961 fans at Municipal Stadium.

The Suns left-hander — the Washington Nationals’ third-round pick in the 2012 draft — started going under in the second inning when he had trouble getting over the top of his four-seam fastball. He issued two consecutive one-out walks, which forced a little reassessing of the situation.

“I was getting under my four-seam and started to open up,” Mooneyham said, showing how his wrist was leading his pitching motion. “I just went to my two-seam the rest of the inning and it forced me to stay on top because I have to pull that pitch down. It was a feel thing.”

Mooneyham escaped the situation, getting Wynston Sawyer to fly to center and Adrian Marin to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning. The Suns (5-4) responded with four runs in the bottom of the second for all the offense they needed to pull out the victory.

“Mooneyham was great tonight,” said Suns manager Tripp Keister. “Tonight, he was getting ahead with all his pitches. He was in total command tonight. He had good enough stuff to minimize damages.”

Hagerstown batted around in the second against Delmarva starter Matt Taylor, who was victimized by an error to prolong the inning.

J.R. Higley started the rally with a double to the right-field wall. After Will Piwnica-Worms walked, Stephen Perez singled to shallow left field to score Higley.

Delmarva prolonged the inning when it had trouble fielding a grounder cleanly.

With runners on first and third, Suns catcher Pedro Severino hit a grounder to second baseman Torsten Boss, who came up short on his toss to second for an error on what could have been a double play. Perez slid in safely as the ball hit the ground to load the bases.

Wes Schill followed with a sacrifice fly to center and Tony Renda capped the rally with a two-run double to right center, his second in two nights, to gave the Suns the 4-0 lead.

From there, Mooneyham was in control. With the mechanics on his four-seam pitch corrected, he took over the game.

Anthony Vega led off the Delmarva third with a single — the only hit allowed by Mooneyham — and Gregory Lorenzo reached on a throwing error by Renda. After Boss advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt, Mooneyham struck out Christian Walker and got Nik Balog to ground out to protect the lead.

He cruised through the next three innings to lock the door for the Suns.

“Baseball is a hard game,” Mooneyham said. “It’s hard to hit a baseball, but I wonder what’s going on at times when guys are hitting me all over. But today, I had a lot of good movement on my pitches. They only hit three flies to center field and the rest was on the ground. They were having trouble getting on top of the ball.”

Brian Rauh came on to pick up a three-inning save, allowing five hits while striking out two.

Rauh’s big test came in the eighth when Lorenzo led off with a triple on a drive to left-center field. But, as Lorenzo stood on third, the Suns appealed to second base and Lorenzo was called out for missing the base.

“That was huge,” Keister said. “We all saw it from the bench. We got that and then they got two hits after that, which would have meant runs, so that play was big.”

Hagerstown managed just two hits after the second inning as a trio of Delmarva relievers — Matt Hobgood, Kevin Jacob and Jose Nivar — kept the Shorebirds in the game. Taylor (0-1) left after the second, allowing only one earned run on three hits and two walks while striking out three.

Mooneyham allowed three walks and struck out two in his first win of the season.

Perez and Higley had two hits each for the Suns.

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