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Suns stay true to their grit to gain split

May 12, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — If anybody wondered, the Hagerstown Suns are serious about their craft.

They, like former NFL coach Herm Edwards, believe you play ... to win ... the game.

And the Suns proved it Sunday, even though they only won once.

Erick Fernandez blooped an RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning to lift the Suns to a come-from-behind, walk-off 4-3 win over Delmarva in extra innings in the nightcap to earn a split in a Sunday doubleheader at Municipal Stadium.

Fernandez landed the knockout punch the Suns missed earlier, as the Shorebirds thwarted Hagerstown’s comeback attempt in the opener, using three three-run homers to take a 12-7 victory.

“All these guys want to win,” said Suns manager Tripp Keister. “We talk about developing them, but they don’t think about developing. It was a long, tough day and we stayed in there and kept grinding.”

Hagerstown (19-13), winners of eight of its last 10 games, pushed out to a 1 1/2-game lead over Hickory in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division with the split. The Crawdads dropped an 9-8 decision to Charleston (S.C.).

And, as usual, the Suns did it the hard way and at the last possible moment.

Brandon Miller opened the ninth by drawing a leadoff walk off Delmarva reliever Lex Rutledge and took second on Wes Schill’s sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch moved the winning run to third as Fernandez — with his .056 batting average — came to the plate.

The catcher got his second hit as a Sun, lofting a lazy pop into short center field, scoring Miller and sending the entire bench out to first base to congratulate Fernandez.

“I had been struggling,” Fernandez said. “I was trying to see something up and put it in play. It was all about Miller getting a walk with a great at-bat and Schill’s bunt.

“It’s the character of this team to play every day like it’s our last day. This feels great ... I hope I can keep the ball rolling.”

The doubleheader was played with a strong wind blowing to right field, which helped produce six home runs. But it helped inside the fences, too.

“The wind helped Erick’s single,” Keister said. “It changed the way the fielders had to play because they had to guard against other kinds of hits. It allowed a shallow bloop to fall in. I’m really happy for Erick.”

It made it a game the Suns won on their own terms.

Delmarva scored the first three runs of the second game in the second inning against Suns starter Ivan Pineyro.

Connor Narron drew a leadoff walk and scored on Adrian Marin’s double to the base of the wall in center field. Gregory Lorenzo drove in Marin with a one-out single to right.

Lorenzo took second when first baseman Shawn Pleffner misplayed Pineyro’s pickoff throw to first and took third on a wild pitch on Anthony Coronia’s walk. He scored on Joel Hutter’s sacrifice fly to right to the 3-0 lead.

The Suns finally got to Delmarva starter Josh Hader, who struck out the side in the second and third innings, in the fourth with the help of the Shorebirds’ defense.

Tony Renda led off the inning with a ground single to left to break Hader’s no-hitter. Renda moved to third when Lorenzo caught Mike McQuillan’s fly to center and threw it into the first base grandstands in an attempt to get a double play.

With two outs, Pleffner singled to right before Brandon Miller homered to right — his sixth — to tie the game at 3-3.

Bryan Harper (2-0) won the game in relief for the Suns, striking out three in two hitless innings.

The Suns got the early lead in the opener, but it didn’t last.

The wind and the home runs made sure of that. Torsten Boss hit two three-run blasts and drove in six runs and Tucker Nathans hit the other to provide nine of the Shorebirds’ 12 runs.

After Wander Ramos hit a two-run shot in the second off Delmarva starter Branden Kline in the first, the Shorebirds took over in the second.

Boss and Nathans each homered off Suns starter Kylin Turnbull (2-1) to give Delmarva a 6-2 lead. The Shorebirds added three runs — highlighted by singles by Anthony Vega and Gregory Lorenzo — in the third for a 9-2 lead.

The Suns started to come back, scoring a run in the fourth before chasing Kline with three runs in the fifth, highlighted by Renda’s first professional homer, to cut the deficit to 9-6.

The Suns got within 9-7 when Khhayan Norfork scored an unearned run, but Boss put the game away in the seventh with his second three-run shot, this one coming off reliever Brian Rauh.

Matt Hobgood got the win in relief, pitching 2 2/3 innings, allowing one unearned run on two hits while striking out two. Turnbull took the loss as the first of four Suns pitchers, allowing nine runs (six earned) on nine hits.

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