HAGERSTOWN, M.D. - The Hagerstown Suns (44-26) closed out the first half of the season on Sunday evening with an 8-5 win over the Greenville Drive (34-35). Despite the win the Suns lost out on the first half South Atlantic League Northern Division title, which was clinched by the Greensboro Grasshoppers (44-26) earlier in the day.
The Suns offense, which had been held to just four runs over the first 28 innings of the series with Greenville, finally came to life in the sixth. Down 3-1 entering the frame, LF Isaac Ballou sent a one-out double to center field. Catcher Spencer Kieboom followed with a triple to left, which brought home Ballou to make it 3-2. Third baseman Drew Ward made it three straight extra-base hits as he sent a towering homerun over the right-center field wall for his sixth homerun of the season. That gave the Suns a 4-3 lead, and it turned out to be a lead they would not relinquish.
Hagerstown was able to hold onto the lead by tacking on four more runs the very next inning to stretch the advantage to 8-3. Second baseman Brennan Middleton started off the bottom of the seventh with a line drive single to center field. Two batters later, RF Narciso Mesa began a string of three straight singles, which wound up driving in two runs. A sacrifice fly by Kieboom brought in the third run of the frame, and the fourth run scored on a single up the middle by Ward. In total Hagerstown sent eight batters to the plate in the inning and collected five hits.
Greenville cut its deficit to three in the eighth despite getting just one hit in the frame. Three walks and two wild pitches from RHP Jake Johansen led to the damage. Johansen was making his first relief appearance of the season and had just been activated from the Disabled list earlier in the day.
It was LHP David Napoli (1-0) who got the win for Hagerstown in his Suns debut. He pitched just one inning, and did not give up a base runner. RHP Austin Voth started for Hagerstown and went five innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits and three walks while striking out five. LHP Jake Walsh pitched the final 1.1 innings for the Suns to record his eighth save in nine chances this season. Starting LHP Trey Ball suffered the loss for Greenville. He went 5.1 innings and gave up four earned runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out four.
Following the three-day All-Star break, the Suns begin the second half of the season with a four-game series in Greensboro against the Grasshoppers that starts on Thursday June 19. First pitch on Thursday is scheduled for 7:00pm.