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Suns' pitching keeps 'Dads' bats in line

April 28, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Ivan Pineyro found a way to escape becoming a victim of Hickory’s home run hitters.

Don’t let the Crawdads hit the ball.

Pineyro struck out 12 of the 18 Hickory hitters who went down swinging over six innings as the Hagerstown Suns notched a 3-0 victory on a chilly, wet Sunday before 553 fans at Municipal Stadium.

Pineyro (1-2) had his best outing of the season, punching out a dozen on 75 pitches, while allowing three hits — all doubles — and two walks. David Fischer pitched the final three innings — getting the first six outs on whiffs — to pick up his second save, while closing out the five-hit shutout.

“Our pitchers made pitches all day,” said Suns manager Tripp Keister. “They had command of their fastball and were able to use their other pitches to keep them off balance.”

Which isn’t an easy task against Hickory.

The Crawdads (14-10) lead the South Atlantic League with 39 home runs in their first 24 games. Hickory has scored five runs in the first three games of the series, four coming on three home runs.

The win puts the Suns (13-11) a game behind Hickory for first place in the SAL Northern Division.

Pineyro was masterful as he tied Hickory hitters up with his fastball by making them conscious of his slower-paced changeup on a terrible day for hitting, much less playing baseball.

Drizzle started at the onset of the game and strengthened to a steady rain as the afternoon wore on, making it difficult for natural play.

“(Pineyro) had a good mix and we worked really well with (catcher Pedro Severino),” said Keister. “(Hickory) is a good hitting team and they are very aggressive at the plate. Every hitter from one to nine looks to drive the ball.

“The big thing for Pineyro was he was getting ahead early. He has been doing that all the time. When he gets behind ball one and ball two, there isn’t much he can do. He made good pitches and made them guess.”

Pineyro struck out the side in the first — wrapped around a double by Luis Mendez and a walk to Ryan Rua — and had two strikeouts in four of his other five innings.

The Suns took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a quick two-out rally against Hickory starter Ryan Bores (0-1).

Wander Ramos drew a two-out walk and circled the bases when Shawn Pleffner’s fly fell just out of the reach of Crawdads left fielder Jordan Akins for an RBI double.

The Suns have made aggressive baserunning one of their trademarks this season, but the sloppy, wet conditions made that a stronger attribute.

“One thing we are trying to establish in the entire (Washington Nationals) system is to be aggressive,” Keister said. “We are going to make mistakes — and at times look bad doing it — but it will help them learn. This team has to be aggressive because we only have like three guys who have hit home runs.”

The Suns extended the lead with a little luck and help in the sixth inning.

Will Piwnica-Worms hit a one-out single to left off Hickory reliever John Kukuruda and circled the bases on Severino’s bloop single to right. Three Crawdad players converged on the ball as right fielder Nomar Maraza fell on the play. Piwnica-Worms, running all the way, scored easily.

Severino advance on a Kukuruda wild pitch and a passed ball before Hunter Bailey walked. Severino scored when Hickory third baseman Joey Gallo couldn’t handle Renda’s grounder for the 3-0 lead.

Hickory had eight baserunners in the game, but none got past second base.

Severino and Pleffner led the Suns, getting two of their seven hits and driving in a run each.

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