HAGERSTOWN, MD (August 4, 2019) - The Suns dropped two close games to the Columbia Fireflies while leaving 10 men on base in game two of the doubleheader at Municipal Stadium Sunday.
Hagerstown (50-62, 20-22) fell 3-2 in the completion of a suspended game and then fell 6-4 in a full nine-inning affair against the Fireflies (42-67, 18-25).
After playing six-and-a-half innings Saturday, a storm came through Municipal Stadium and the game was suspended with the score tied 2-2 and finshed Sunday afternoon. In the eighth inning Sunday, Guillermo Granadillo reached on a lead-off single against Pearson McMahan (L, 0-1), who was making his Suns debut. Later in the frame, Mark Vientos brought him home with an RBI single to put the Fireflies in front.
Justin Lasko (W, 1-0) pitched the remaining three innings of game one for Columbia. The righty did not allow a hit over three scoreless frames and struck out four while locking down the series-opening win for the Fireflies.
Columbia got on the board first in this one against Suns starter Jackson Rutledge, who was making his first start at Municipal Stadium. After two walks early in the inning, Hayden Senger singled into centerfield and Armond Upshaw made an error, allowing the ball to skid by him and the runner Shervyen Newton to score. Gerson Molina then knocked in another run on a fielder's choice to make it 2-0 Fireflies.
However, the second was the only inning in which Rutledge allowed a baserunner. The Nationals' 2019 No. 1 draft pick spun five strong innings, allowing just one earned run on one hit and striking out two. The righty also retired the final 11 batters he faced.
The Hagerstown offense took a little longer to get going, but it started to put hits together in the fourth. After Jacob Rhinesmith walked, Nic Perkins delivered an RBI double to get the Suns on the board against Columbia starter Christian James. Then in the fifth inning, Trey Vickers singled to lead it off, Upshaw bunted him to second, and then Jackson Cluff drove him home with an RBI single to tie the game.
Christian Vann came on for the Suns and pitched two scoreless frames, and then the skies opened up during the seventh inning stretch Saturday, and the game was suspended.
A two-run rally in the seventh proved to be the difference in game two as Columbia held on 6-4 and picked up the sweep on the day.
With the game tied at four, Alfonso Hernandez (L, 0-1) came out of the bullpen to make his Suns debut in the seventh and was quickly greeted with two singles. The second one off the bat of Ronny Mauricio brought home a run and put the Fireflies in front. Vientos followed with an RBI triple to make the score 6-4.
The Suns got baserunners on in the eighth and two in the ninth against Allan Winans (S, 9), but the Columbia closer picked up the final four outs of the game to secure the sweep on the day for the Fireflies.
Just like in game one, pitching dominated early in game two. Each team got a run in the third inning, but that was the only scoring through four. For the Fireflies, it was a lead-off triple from Granadillo that started the rally and then he scored on a sacrifice fly from Mauricio. The Suns got a similar lead-off triple from Upshaw in the bottom of the inning and then Cluff brought him home with a sacrifice fly of his own.
However, the game belonged to the hitters starting in the fifth. It was then that the Columbia offense jumped on Hagerstown starter Jackson Stoeckinger. A Walter Rasquin RBI single put the Fireflies in front and then Vientos came up with an RBI double later in the frame. Chase Chambers capped off the three-run inning with a sacrifice fly to put Columbia up 4-1.
Stoeckinger came back out and got through a one-two-three sixth, and the lefty allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings. However, the Suns got him off the hook for the loss in the bottom half of the frame.
With one away in the sixth, Israel Pineda hit his sixth home run of the season - a solo shot off of Fireflies starter Bryce Hutchinson. Cole Daily then singled and chased Hutchinson from the game. He handed the ball over to Danny Hrbek (W, 2-0) and the Suns ambushed him with three consecutive singles. The last two from Trey Vickers and Upshaw brought home runs, and Upshaw's tied the game.
After Hernandez gave up the runs in the seventh, he did settle down and put together scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth. However, the Hagerstown offense couldn't put together a rally to tie the game.
Hagerstown continues its four-game series with Columbia tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. The Suns send RHP Tomas Alastre (4-10, 6.19 ERA) to the hill while the Fireflies have not yet named a starting pitcher.
The Suns are in the midst of a seven-game homestand against the Rome Braves and Columbia Fireflies. The stretch includes plenty of exciting promotions, including Sunday Funday, Shark Weekend and Summer Camp Day. For tickets or more information visit hagerstownsuns.com or call 301-791-6266.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.