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Suns win SAL North first-half title after victory over BlueClaws

June 16, 2013

HAGERSTOWN — The Hagerstown Suns took care of business on Sunday afternoon, and that was enough to become the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division first-half champions later in the evening.

Khayyan Norfork and Estarlin Martinez each hit two doubles, Tony Renda and Stephen Perez each added two hits and the Suns put together two big innings to beat the Lakewood BlueClaws 9-6 at Municipal Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The victory kept the Suns (38-29) alive on the final day of the race for the Northern Division first-half title. The Hickory Crawdads (39-31) entered Sunday a half-game ahead of Hagerstown, but lost 4-2 to the Delmarva Shorebirds on Sunday evening, making the Suns champions by the same half-game margin.

Facing the BlueClaws, Hagerstown scored four runs in the fourth to take a 5-1 lead and added three runs in the sixth for an 8-4 advantage.

Lakewood (26-41) opened the scoring off Suns starter Matt Purke in the top of the second on a walk and singles by Willie Carmona and Chace Numata.

Hagerstown tied the game at 1 in the bottom half off BlueClaws starter Miguel Nunez. Martinez hit a one-out double and scored when Perez dropped in a soft liner to left for a single.

The Suns opened it up in the fourth on four hits, a walk and a Lakewood throwing error. Pedro Severino hit an RBI triple to center, Wilmer Difo’s single to right scored Severino, Renda hit an infield single in the hole at short to score Difo, and Norfork doubled to left to bring home Renda for a 5-1 lead.

The BlueClaws scored a run in the fifth when Zach Taylor tripled and scored on Roman Quinn’s sacrifice fly, ending Purke’s outing.

Lakewood cut the lead to one, 5-4, with two runs off Suns reliever Christian Meza in the sixth. Art Charles led off with a single, and with two outs, Numata hit an RBI double to center and Alejandro Villalobos followed with an RBI triple to right.

Hagerstown opened up the lead again with three runs in the bottom of the sixth off BlueClaws reliever Geoff Broussard. Renda doubled to center, Norfork reached on a throwing error that allowed Renda to score, Pleffner singled to right to score Norfork, and Brandon Miller capped the inning with a two-out solo home run to center, his team-leading 13th of the year.

Lakewood cut the lead to 8-6 with two runs in the seventh. Both runs were charged to Suns reliever Will Hudgins, who gave up Carlos Tocci’s double to left and two walks to load the bases with one out. Gilberto Mendez relieved Hudgins and allowed Carmona’s two-run single to center before getting a strikeout and groundout to get out of the inning.

Hagerstown replied with a run in the bottom half to close out the scoring. Martinez led off with a double to left, and pinch runner Wes Schill later scored when Severino reached on a throwing error.

Mendez worked a perfect eighth inning, and Robert Benincasa earned his 10th save with a 1-2-3 ninth for the Suns, striking out two.

Purke worked 4 2/3 innings for Hagerstown, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out two. Meza (1-0) got credit for the win with 1 1/3 innings of relief, though he allowed two runs on four hits. He struck out two.

Nunez (5-4) took the loss for Lakewood. He allowed five runs on six hits and three walks in four innings, striking out five.

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