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Suns' Renda provides insurance

April 17, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown's Wander Ramos follows the flight of his two-run triple in the first inning Wednesday at Municipal Stadium.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — The Hagerstown Suns played tag on Wednesday, and Tony Renda was “it.”

It was a one-run game in the seventh inning and the Suns’ designated hitter was on the hot seat.

Renda fed off the pressure and stroked a two-out single to center to score Stephen Perez from second with the insurance run in a 3-1 victory over Lakewood in an afternoon matinee at Municipal Stadium.

Circumstance and opportunity collided to put Renda in the clutch position in a game that was 2-1.

“I wanted Tony to hit with a man on second base,” said Suns manager Tripp Keister. “We talked about if we got someone on about bunting to move them over to second for him to hit, but it didn’t happen until two were out.”

Renda, Hagerstown’s leadoff hitter, was scheduled to hit fourth in the seventh inning against Lakewood reliever Andrew Aizenstadt. The plan looked like it was going to fizzle.

Hunter Bailey and Pedro Severino made outs to start the seventh before Perez walked. Renda stood at the plate for his cue, which came when Perez stole second base.

“I was just waiting for Stephen to steal second,” said Renda, who had the complexion of his at-bat change with the theft. “Guys like Stephen, (Mike) McQuillan and (Estarlin) Martinez like to run, so I was ready. It didn’t change things at all.”

But everything Keister planned happened. He got the right guy in the right situation and Renda went to work.

“I had two strikes with a guy on second,” Renda said. “I worked the count even and then got a pitch that just got too much of the plate and hit it up the middle.”

Suddenly, the Suns (8-6) had a two-run lead and needed only six outs to secure a series win against the BlueClaws.

“One run is huge in baseball,” Renda said. “It is the difference in the game and the last few outs are the hardest to get in the game. When every thing works, it’s a good day.”

It was the best of days for the Suns, who played a game that has become their trademark — score early and protect the lead with pitching and defense.

“With the way the game was going, we needed another run,” Keister said. “I knew we were probably going to end up with the winning run on base. Tony’s the leadoff guy, but you are only that once a game. He’s been a really good RBI guy during the homestand and has been hitting the ball well.”

It was enough to seal the win for Brian Rauh (1-1), who won in relief of starter Brett Mooneyham. Rauh allowed a run on three hits in 3 2/3 innings with no walks and five strikeouts.

Mooneyham was in total control of the game until the fifth inning.

Hagerstown’s left-hander held the BlueClaws hitless through the first four innings and got Carlos Tocci to ground out to short to start the fifth inning. After the play, the Suns coaching staff came to the mound to attend to Mooneyham, who was taken from the game after feeling discomfort in his arm.

The BlueClaws (3-11) immediately ended the no-hitter against Rauh. Chad Carman hit a double down the right-field line. He took third when Yan Olmo reached on a wild pitch on a strikeout before scoring on Angelo Mora’s two-out single to left to make it a one-run game.

The Suns took a 2-0 lead in the first off Lakewood starter Kevin Brady (0-2), started by Renda’s leadoff single to right. Renda stole second before Estarlin Martinez drew a one-out walk.

Wander Ramos put the Suns on the scoreboard first again, this time with a two-run triple off the fence in center field. Ramos hit a three-run homer to start Hagerstown to an 11-2 victory on Tuesday.

Renda and Ramos each had two of the Suns’ seven hits. Mooneyham pitched 4 1/3 hitless innings, with two walks and two strikeouts before leaving. Robert Benincasa pitched the ninth for his third save, closing it out with Lakewood runners on first and third.

Carman had two of Lakewood’s five hits.

“We were 4-3 in the homestand and I was happy because they are playing the right way,” Keister said. “You can see how we are going to play because we have all the position players that we were supposed to have. We had two starters hurt, which concerns me, but our relievers came on and did the great job in the adverse situations.”

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