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Suns open the door for Shorebirds

July 26, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — All the Hagerstown Suns did was open the door a crack.

It was all the Delmarva Shorebirds needed to force their way through.

The Shorebirds took advantage of all the openings that the Suns didn’t, using two errors and a leadoff walk as starting points to score four runs and notch a 5-1 victory in Friday’s South Atlantic League game at Municipal Stadium.

Delmarva used two errors by third baseman Mike McQuillan to score three unearned runs off Suns starter Pedro Encarnacion, and a leadoff walk by reliever Ronald Pena set the table for a 4-0 lead that Hagerstown could never erase.

The Shorebirds made good on their chances with key hits after each situation.

“They got the clutch hits with two outs and we didn’t capitalize on our situations to bring in some early runs,” Suns manager Tripp Keister said. “There were a couple of errors and a walk and they took care of the rest.”

The loss put the Suns (58-43, 20-14) a game behind West Virginia in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division second-half race. Hagerstown won the first half and is assured a playoff spot.

The Suns had their best shot of the night when they loaded the bases in the second inning against Delmarva starter Parker Bridwell (7-8). Hagerstown filled the bags with a Will Piwnica-Worms double, a walk to Khayyan Norfork and Craig Manuel’s infield single, all coming with one out.

Hagerstown came up empty when Stephen Perez struck out and Narciso Mesa grounded to second to end the threat.

“We could have taken control if we had scored there, but that didn’t hurt us,” Keister said. “There was a lot of game left and we were still battling. Encarnacion pitched well, but their starter did a good job against us. They just hit the ball in the clutch.”

The Shorebirds cracked the scoreboard with the first unearned run off Encarnacion (7-7) in the third.

Gregory Lorenzo reached first on a one-out error by McQuillan and scored from there on Lucas Herbst’s second double of the game, a shot that right fielder Brandon Miller couldn’t catch at the fence.

Delmarva added two unearned runs in the fourth, which started with Roderick Bernadina reaching on McQuillan’s second error. After Steel Russell singled, both runners advanced on Adrian Marin’s single to right. Lorenzo drove a shot to the base of the fence in left field with two outs for a two-run triple and a 3-0 lead.

The Shorebirds added an insurance run when the Suns opened the door in the seventh.

Creede Simpson drew a two-out walk off Pena before Nik Balog hit a double into the right-field corner. Simpson scored to make it 4-0 before Balog was thrown out at third while trying to stretch his hit into a triple.

Delmarva did all the work to add a run in the eighth. Bernadina led off with a single and stole second before scoring on Marin’s one-out double that painted the left-field line to give the Shorebirds a five-run lead.

The Suns manufactured a run against Delmarva reliever Mychal Givens in the bottom of the eighth. Tony Renda led off with a single to center and stole second before taking third on a passed ball. Shawn Pleffner hit a one-out grounder to short to score Renda to make the score 5-1.

Despite the loss, the Suns had one good sign as McQuillan, Pleffner and catcher Pedro Severino all played after returning from stints on the disabled list. With them healthy, Hagerstown can start looking ahead to the postseason.

“It’s good to have them back,” Keister said. “They were big part of the team in the first half of the season. We still have 40 games before the playoffs, so we aren’t starting to get ready for that yet. We aren’t thinking of that. We were just getting out there to play.”

Bridwell fired a six-hit shutout over 5 2/3 innings with two walks and four strikeouts before giving way to Givens. Givens went 2 1/3 innings, allowing a run on two hits, before giving way to Casey Upperman in the ninth.

Encarnacion lasted six innings, allowing three unearned runs on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Pena allowed two runs in three innings before Travis Henke pitched the ninth.

Herbst and Lorenzo each had two of Delmarva’s nine hits.

Renda, Manuel and Piwnica-Worms had two hits each for the Suns.

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