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Suns blast BlueClaws

April 16, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Brandon Miller had a surge of power on Tuesday.

So did the Hagerstown Suns.

Miller, Hagerstown’s right fielder, hit a grand slam in the seventh inning to complete the Suns’ three home run night, which paved the way to a runaway 11-2 win over the Lakewood BlueClaws before 512 fans at Municipal Stadium.

It was a direct turnaround for the Suns (7-6), who struggled to get five hits in Monday’s 5-1 loss and showed little diversity in the offense. On Tuesday, they rolled out the power with all three of the team’s heaviest hitters connecting.

Wander Ramos put the Suns on the board with a three-run homer in the fourth and Shawn Pleffner added a two-run shot in the sixth before Miller rang the bell for his second homer of the season. Hagerstown entered the game with only two homers in the first 12 games, none coming at Municipal Stadium.

“Wander is just getting off the disabled list and Pleffner wasn’t here at the beginning of the season,” said Suns manager Tripp Keister. “Miller has been working very hard on his swing and getting comfortable. It was good to see him get rewarded for all the hard work he’s been doing.”

The three home runs were the backdrop for a pair of other performances that kept the Suns in the game until they found their home run stroke.

Brian Dupra (1-0) came to Hagerstown’s rescue in the first inning in an emergency relief role and pitched 5 1/3 innings to keep the BlueClaws (3-10) in check. Meanwhile, Pedro Severino did his part by throwing out a pair of base stealers and picking a runner off first — all in the first five innings — to keep Lakewood’s fleet runners flat-footed.

“We were expecting to use Dupra today, but we didn’t expect to have him out there after two outs in the game,” Keister said. “He did a good job and kept them off balance. He went a little longer than we wanted, but he had stretched out during the spring and worked to right about his max innings. He did a nice job.

Dupra was called into the game after starter Ivan Pineyro was hit with Brian Pointer’s shot up the middle with two outs in the top of the first. The ball hit the gloved area of his thumb and slowed behind the mound. Pineyro reacted to the ball and threw late to first before falling to the ground in pain.

He was lifted immediately for Dupra and left the stadium for X-rays.

Dupra allowed two runs on eight hits and a walk with three strikeouts to get the win. Will Hudgins pitched the final three innings for his first save.

Miller had been struggling, with 13 strikeouts over his last seven games, before connecting on the blast.

“It was mostly seeing the ball and tracking it better,” Miller said. “It was a fastball and I was just trying to drive it up the middle. I have been thinking too much and haven’t been trying to hit the ball up the middle. I have been working on it and made the adjustment this morning. I just cleared my head.”

Lakewood starter Shane Watson (0-1) held the Suns hitless through the first three innings, but it didn’t last.

Mike McQuillian led off the fourth with a sharp single to center off the glove of shortstop Roman Quinn and Estarlin Martinez followed with a single to center. Ramos cashed in by launching a 2-0 pitch into the jet stream blowing to left for a three-run home run to give Hagerstown a 3-0 lead.

Lakewood got single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to close to within 3-2 before the Suns aired the game out.

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