HAGERSTOWN, MD - The Hagerstown Suns (43-26, 87-52) broke a 2-2 tie with three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on Sunday evening to pull away from the Lakewood BlueClaws (25-42, 52-84) for a 5-2 win. The win means the Suns have clinched the second half Northern Division title with one game remaining in the regular season.
The eighth inning rally began with LF Wilman Rodriguez, who drew a walk with one out. Shortstop David Masters followed with a double to left, which pushed Rodriguez to third. Another walk was then issued to catcher Austin Chubb, loading the bases for pinch hitter Drew Ward. Ward hit a chopper to second baseman Drew Stankiewicz, but his throw to the plate was low and bounced past catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing both Rodriguez and Masters to score. Right fielder Rafael Bautista brought the final run in with a sacrifice fly to right to set the final score.
Hagerstown had taken an initial 2-0 advantage by plating one run each in the first and second. In the first DH Wilmer Difo hit a one-out blast over the left field wall for his team-leading 14th homer and 90th RBI of the season. In the second Bautista grounded out with runners at second and third and one out, scoring Masters from third to build the two-run lead.
That two-run lead didn't last long, as the BlueClaws scored their first run in the top of the third. Third baseman Mitch Walding led off the frame with a double to left. He went to third on a sacrifice bunt, and scored from third on a groundout to short. The only other BlueClaws run crossed the plate in the fifth thanks to an RBI sacrifice bunt by Stankiewicz, tying the game at the time.
LHP Nick Lee (1-0) pitched the final two scoreless innings for Hagerstown to pick up the win. He gave up two hits over his two innings of work. RHP Delvi Francisco (1-3) suffered the loss for Lakewood. Francisco tossed the final three innings for the BlueClaws, allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits and three walks while striking out one.
These two teams conclude the regular season as well as their four-game series at Municipal Stadium on Monday September 1. The Suns will send RHP Andrew Cooper (7-4) to the mound for his fifth start and 28th appearance of the year. He will square off against RHP Jon Prosinski (5-5) for Lakewood. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.