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Gallo's homer cures Crawdads of their errors in win over Suns

April 26, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Home runs are all about using negatives to make positives out of negatives.

One mistake by an opposing team, leading to one mighty swing of the bat, can erase a multitude of sins.

Joey Gallo carried that eraser for the Hickory Crawdads on Friday. Gallo connected for a two-run home run in the eighth inning to offset a pair of unearned runs and steal a 3-2 victory from the Hagerstown Suns before 696 fans at Municipal Stadium.

The tightly played game yielded three runs — all unearned — through the first seven innings. The Suns (11-11) parlayed a pair of errors by Hickory (14-8) into runs in the third and seventh innings to take a 2-1 lead that appeared like it might be just the edge the Suns needed for the victory.

“If there is such a thing as momentum, I thought we had it going into the eighth after scoring in the seventh inning,” said Suns manager Tripp Keister.  “We didn’t execute in a spot and made a mistake.”

The Crawdads, who are proving to be one of the most dangerous teams in the South Atlantic League, came right at the Suns in the eighth, even though Hagerstown looked like it might escape.

Lewis Brinson led off the inning with a double to center off Suns reliever Brian Dupra (1-2), but was picked off second as shortstop Steven Perez sneaked in from behind for the snap throw from catcher Pedro Severino.

But Nick Vickerson rekindled the rally by drawing a walk to set up Joey Gallo’s home run — his eighth of the season — over the right-field wall to give the Crawdads the 3-2 advantage.

It was Hickory’s 37th home run in 22 games this season. The Crawdads not only lead South Atlantic League in the category, but they are the top home run hitting team in professional baseball — two ahead of the Atlanta Braves.

“It was a good game … we just made a mistake,” Keister said. “We hung a curveball and they hit it out. It was a good game. We played well. I’m not upset by the way we played. It was just baseball.”

The Suns (11-11) struggled again at the plate, collecting six hits, leaving nine runners on base and going 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position.

Coby Cowgill struck out two Suns in the eighth and Cody Kendall worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth save.

Crawdads reliever Jose Valdespina (1-0) allowed an unearned run on two hits and struck out four over two innings in relief of starter C.J. Edwards.

Hickory took a 1-0 lead in the second inning with an unearned run off Hagerstown starter Dixon Anderson, who started the rally by hitting Ryan Rua with a pitch. Jorge Alfaro followed with a shot down the left-field line for a double, and when left fie lder Wes Schill misplayed the ball on the warning track, Rua scored.

The Suns tied the game in the second in similar fashion against Edwards. Tony Renda led off with a double to center and took third on Wander Ramos’ one-out grounder to short. Shawn Pleffner hit a grounder up the middle that Rau couldn’t field, allowing Renda to tie the game at 1 with an unearned run.

The Suns took a 2-1 lead with the help of another unearned run in the seventh against Valdespino. Perez led off the inning by reaching first when Vickerson failed to catch a throw at first.

With two outs, Perez jumped on Valdespina’s move to the plate and scored all the way from first when Wander Ramos connected on a drive to right to drive in the go-ahead run.

Dixon came away with a no-decision after allowing an unearned run on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts over six innings.

“He gives us a pretty good effort every time out,” Keister said. “He had good control and he works so hard. I pull for guys who work that hard every time.”

The Crawdads were led by Brinson, who had three of their seven hits. Renda had two hits to lead the Suns.

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