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Suns to keep image in playoffs

September 03, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Suns could never work for Colonel Sanders.

That’s because there is no secret recipe to what they do.

The Suns are a meat-and-potatoes team. There is no 11 herbs and spices about them. They play basic baseball and play it effectively.

It was the formula that made the Suns the first-half champions in the South Atlantic League’s Northern Division this season.

And it’s the formula they will stick with tonight at 7 when they play the opening game of the Northern Division best-of-3 playoffs at West Virginia.

“It sounds kind of boring,” said Suns manager Tripp Keister. “We are just going to do what we do — hit, pitch to contact, put the ball in play, run the bases aggressively and play defense. We’ve got to do what we do best. That’s our formula.”

It does sound boring, but it has translated to an 80-57 record built on a small ball persona. Hagerstown has the third-best record in the league behind Augusta (82-55) and West Virginia (82-58).

So, No. 2 vs. No. 3 might be anything but boring. And to top it off, the Suns have home-field advantage and will play Friday and Saturday, if needed, at Municipal Stadium.

But first things first. The Suns will send Austin Voth to the mound tonight against West Virginia’s Tyler Glasnow, who could easily be a candidate for the SAL’s pitcher of the year.

“West Virginia is one of the hottest teams right now,” Keister said. “They will be trying to make it carry over. It’s a question of if we can match the intensity. We have been playing well and did well in the second half.

“How we match up with West Virginia will be interesting.”

The two teams haven’t seen each other since July 1-3, when the Suns recorded a three-game sweep at Municipal Stadium.

A lot has changed since then.

“We haven’t played them lately, so they don’t know anything about the new guys we have.” Keister said. “But the same goes for us. We don’t know a lot about their new guys either.”

The Suns made two roster changes on Tuesday in preparation for the playoffs.

Since the Suns need only three starting pitchers for the series, they added reliever Jake Walsh and took Jake Johansen off the active roster.

Will Piwnica-Worms was promoted to high Single-A Potomac for its playoff series. The Suns will receive outfielder Bryan Lippencott from Auburn.

One of West Virginia’s constants has been Glasnow. The 19-year-old right-hander is 9-3 with a 2.18 ERA, who hasn’t allowed an earned run since Aug. 7. He has allowed just 54 hits in 24 starts.

“He has been tough and he will be a challenge,” Keister said.

Voth will be making his third start for the Suns since joining the team. He is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA. He allowed a run on two hits in six innings to earn a victory on Aug. 29 against Lakewood.

Pedro Encarnacion is slated to pitch for Hagerstown on Friday and Kylin Turnbull will get the ball on Saturday, if needed.

The personnel is always important, but for the Suns, it is still a matter of playing their brand of baseball, no matter who they face or where they play.

“It might sound stupid, but in a short series it will all come down to who plays the best,” Keister said. “You can’t have a lot of walks or mistakes in the field. We are going to compete and play for 27 outs. We aren’t going to change now.”

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