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Hickory uses three-run blast to get past Suns

July 09, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — There is a reason why no lead is safe against the Hickory Crawdads.

They hit home runs … a lot of them.

The Hagerstown Suns had a two-run lead on Tuesday. They weren’t safe.

Ryan Rua hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning to revive Hickory and give it a 4-3 victory over the Suns at Municipal Stadium in the first game of a crucial three-game battle for the South Atlantic League Northern Division second-half lead.

“That’s typical of our games with Hickory. They come down to the last at-bat,” said Suns manager Tripp Keister. “We made a couple of good pitches on Rua early and then he got us. That’s what happens when you make a mistake.”

With the victory, the Crawdads (51-37, 12-6) leaped over the Suns  (50-36, 12-7) into a half-game lead in the division. The Suns won the first-half title and are already in the playoffs.

The Crawdads turned the game in their favor quickly in the sixth against Suns starter Pedro Encarnacion (6-5).

Nick Williams opened the sixth with an infield single to second and Ronald Guzman drew a one-out walk. Rua hit a drive over the wall in left center for his 26th homer of the season to give Hickory the 4-3 lead.

The shot tied Rua with teammate Joey Gallo for the South Atlantic League lead. Hickory has a league-leading 126 homers for the season.

But even with the big shot to turn the game, Keister puts this loss on the Suns.

“We had a couple of scoring opportunities with runners on second and third and didn’t drive them in,” he said. “That’s the way we have to win. We have to use our situational hitting to get them in and we didn’t do it. That was the difference in the game.”

The Suns left six runners in scoring position, including a pair on second and third in the seventh with one out that could have turned the game back in their favor.

Hickory got the early jump by scoring in the third inning off Encarnacion with a controversial run. David Lyons was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and took second when Lewis Brinson walked.

Nick Williams hit bounced a single to center, sending Lyons home. Center fielder Narciso Mesa came in on the run and gunned the ball to catcher Pedro Severino at the plate. The ball was there in time and Severino made a swipe tag on Lyons, who ran wide to the dugout side of the plate.

Home plate umpire Ryan Benson called Lyons safe, bringing Keister out of the dugout to no avail as Hickory took a 1-0 lead.

The Suns bounced back in trademark fashion in the bottom of the inning with two runs against Hickory starter Frank Lopez.

Mesa reached on a fielders’ choice grounder and Tony Renda drew a two-out walk with both runners advancing on a double steal. Estarlin Martinez, SAL’s player of the week, protected the plate with two strikes and drove a two-run double to the wall in center for the 2-1 lead.

The Suns added a run in the fourth as Khayyan Norfork led off with an infield single to third and took second when Will Piwnica-Worms walked. Severino hit a one-out, RBI single to right to make it 3-1.

Norfork had two of the Suns’ eight hits.

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