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Ballou sends Suns into SAL Finals
09/08/2013 12:15 AM ET

The Nationals promoted Isaac Ballou from short-season Auburn to Class A Hagerstown with a week left in the regular season, hoping the 23-year-old outfielder could get his feet wet in time to contribute in the South Atlantic League playoffs.

It looks like the plan has worked.

Ballou went 4-for-5 with a double and three runs scored on Saturday night as the Suns advanced to the SAL Championship Series with a 6-2 triumph over West Virginia.

Hagerstown took the best-of-3 semifinal, 2-1, and will face Savannah for the title in a best-of-5 series that begins Monday at Municipal Stadium.

Selected by Washington in the 15th round of this year's Draft, Ballou raised his postseason average to .583 after a disappointing six-game experiment to end the regular season. He batted .111 in his first 27 at-bats, striking out six times and failing to register an extra-base hit.

The Marshall University product has a double in each of his first three playoff games, going 1-for-4 in a series-opening 6-1 win and 2-for-3 with two runs scored in Friday night's 6-3 loss.

The leadoff hitter said the brief regular-season exposure to the SAL helped him prepare for postseason play.

"In short-season, there were a lot of 3-1 fastballs, 2-1 fastballs," Ballou said. "The first couple of games up here, there were a bunch of changeups. I wasn't struggling, necessarily, but I didn't swing like I should have, wasn't making the necessary adjustments.

"I discussed it with [manager] Tripp Keister, what my approach was and what I need to do, what he was seeing and how I was feeling. The rest is history. He says, 'I know you can play here. I have faith in you. Step up and be an intricate part of this team.'"

Ballou's first three hits Saturday came off Pirates No. 5 prospect Luis Heredia (0-1), who lasted three innings and surrendered three runs on 10 hits.

"There was no big secret tonight," Ballou said, "just go up and be aggressive."

The Suns' No. 2 hitter, Tony Renda, went 3-for-4 behind Ballou, picking up two RBIs and scoring a run. Shawn Pleffner and Wander Ramos also had two hits and two RBIs apiece.

After Hagerstown starter Kylin Turnbull (1-0) allowed two runs on six hits over five innings, Ronald Pena held the Power to one hit over the final four frames for his first playoff save.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.