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Lakewood sinks claws into Suns

June 14, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com


The game changed with one swing of the bat for the Hagerstown Suns on Friday.

The situation didn’t though, although it got a little bit tougher.

Lakewood scored nine runs in the final three innings to erase a 5-2 deficit to grab an untimely 11-5 victory over the Suns before 1,734 fans at Municipal Stadium, which seriously put a crimp in Hagerstown’s quest for the South Atlantic League Northern Division first-half title.

Mitch Walding tied the game with a three-run home run in the seventh before Lakewood added three runs in the eighth and ninth innings to turn the outcome into a blowout.

“We didn’t finish out the way that we would have liked,” said Suns manager Tripp Keister. “They got some big hits, so you have to give them credit. The approach has been that we can only worry about us and about winning games. Even with this, that hasn’t changed.”

It hasn’t changed, but the margin of error just shrunk.

The Suns remained one game behind Hickory for the division lead and have three games to play. Hickory could have all but closed out the title on Friday, but the Crawdads lost to Delmarva.

Hagerstown faces Lakewood in a doubleheader tonight, which could decide the title. Anything but a sweep could end the first half for the Suns.

The Suns (35-29) seemed to have the game well in hand heading in the seventh with the 5-2 lead. Lakewood let the air out of Hagerstown’s balloon.

Lakewood didn’t let the Suns take the game easily as it scored three runs off Suns reliever Ian Dickson to tie the game at 5.
Dickson struck out the first two hitters of the inning before issuing walks to Roman Quinn and Carlos Tocci.  Mitch Walding tied the game with a drive over the fence in right field for a three-run homer, his first of the season.

“Dickson was making is first appearance with the Suns after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs earlier this week in a trade for reliever Henry Rodriguez.

“The pitch he hit that home run on was down in the zone,” Keister said. “You got to give him credit for hitting that. I don’t think that home run took our guys out of the game. These guys compete. I didn’t notice any change in the way they played.”
But the BlueClaws got a little more excited.

Lakewood took the lead in the eighth against Bryan Harper (3-1), who struggled through two innings of relief.

William Carmona led off with a double to the right-field corner and gave way to pinch runner Zach Taylor. The BlueClaws loaded the bases as Harper hit Chance Numata with a pitch and walked Brian Pointer.

Alejandro Villalobos gave Lakewood the lead with an RBI single and Roman Quinn added a two-run double to give Lakewood a 8-5 lead.

Numata added a three-run double in the ninth to complete the turnaround.

Lakewood’s bullpen held the Suns to four hits over the last six innings. Luis Paulino (3-0) pitched the seventh and eight innings and Delvi Francisco closed out the victory.

Harper allowed five runs on six hits with three walks in his two innings.

Lakewood put the Suns to the test early with two runs in the first off starter Nick Lee.

Tocci hit a one-out single to right before being erased on Walding’s fielder’s choice grounder to second. Walding took third on Art Charles’ double to left before Carmona’s two-run single to center for the 2-0 lead.

Hagerstown matched the BlueClaws with two runs of their own off Lakewood starter Jonathan Musser. Tony Renda led off with a single and took second when Khayyan Norfork walked. Both runners advanced on a double steal with two outs.

Will Piwnica-Worms followed with a high-hop grounder over the head of Charles at first to score both runners and tie the game at 2.

The Suns bolted to a 5-2 lead in the third inning as Norfork led off with a home run over the wall in center field, his first of the season.

Estarlin Martinez continued the rally by reaching second on an error by Lakewood shortstop Roman Quinn. Brandon Miller hit an RBI double to the gap in left-center and scored on Matt Foat’s ground-rule double to right-center to build the three-run lead.

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