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BlueClaws get edge on Suns in late innings

April 15, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Sometimes when the margin for error is razor thin, there’s no way to avoid being cut.

On Monday, the Hagerstown Suns were sharp. The Lakewood BlueClaws were just sharper.

Lakewood took advantage of two Hagerstown mistakes in the late innings to break a 1-1 tie and pull away to a 5-1 victory on Monday before a sparse crowd at Municipal Stadium.

The Suns played well, but it wasn’t crisp enough to win. The difference was a pitch that missed location and an errant throw, both of which took away the chances for Hagerstown to pull out a win in the ninth.

“In baseball, you are going to make some outs,” said Suns manager Tripp Keister. “You aren’t going to pull it out every night. Their starter kept us off balance and we didn’t get the hit when we needed it.”

Arthur Charles had a hand in all three ralies for Lakewood (3-9), starting the first one in the top of the second inning with a leadoff double, and putting the BlueClaws ahead in the seventh with a two-run home run — both off Suns starter Dixon Anderson (1-1), who deserved a better fate than the loss.

The quick-moving game was tied through six innings until the bottom dropped out for the Suns (6-6). The BlueClaws broke the tie in the seventh as Anderson hit Brian Pointer with a pitch to lead off. Thomas followed with a drive to center that just cleared the fence in front of the right-field bullpen for a two-run home run and a 2-1 lead.

Anderson struck out the next two Lakewood batters before being lifted for Blake Schwartz. Anderson three runs on three hits while striking out nine in 6 2/3 innings.

“Dixon did a nice job,” said Keister. “He is always going to go out there and give you a quality start. I tried to leave him in to finish the inning, but his pitch count got up there.”

The BlueClaws defied the Houdini act attempted by Suns reliever Blake Schwartz in the ninth to add two insurance runs.

Angelo Mora led off the inning with a walk and took third on Pointer’s double to right. Charles was intentionally walked to load the bases, setting up a force at home on Mitch Walding’s grounder to first. Schwartz got within an out of the escape by striking out William Carmona.

Then the lid came off, ruining the debut for two of the Suns’ newest additions. Carlos Tocci hit a grounder to shortstop Hunter Bailey and reached safely when the throw bounced off first baseman Shawn Pleffner to plate Pointer. Pleffner threw wildly to home for a second error on the play to allow Charles to score and give the BlueClaws a four-run lead.

“Schwartz did a great job and we had a chance to get out of the inning, and that would have made the ninth a lot different,” Keister said.

Bailey and Pleffner, along with infielder Mike Foat, joined the team late Sunday after the Suns were forced to make a number of roster moves. Hagerstown placed both outfielder J.R. Higley and first baseman Carlos Lopez on the disabled list and activated catcher Andruth Ramirez. Infielder Khayyan Norfork and outfielder Will Piwnica-Worms were promoted to Single-A Potomac.

Lakewood took a 1-0 lead against Suns starter Dixon Anderson in the second inning. Charles led off with a double to the wall in center. He moved to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Walding’s grounder to second.

The Suns tied the game at 1 in the fourth inning against Lakewood starter Josh Warner. Mike McQuillian hit a shot to the fence in right center, legging out a triple by just beating the relay. Estarlin Martinez clubbed a double to the base of the left-field wall to bring in the run.

McQuillan was the Suns’ hitting star with two of the team’s five hits, as well as two walks. Martinez added two hits.

“Mike has been swinging the bat well,” Keister said. “He had a couple of hits the other night and two tonight. ... We just have to come out and get the offense going tomorrow.”

Warner (1-1) went six innings, allowing one run on three hits with four walks and three strikeouts to get the win.

The Suns had chances to get the lead or tie the game in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings with runners in scoring position in each inning, but went 0-for-6 in the clutch.

Schwartz allowed two unearned runs on one hit over 2 1/3 innings with two walks and three strikeouts.

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