SALISBURY, Md. - The Hagerstown Suns have played in so many doubleheaders, one might have lost track (we didn't: 14). That has not stopped the Suns from rising in several occasions where their backs might be up against the wall. Another new hero emerged on Tuesday night against the Delmarva Shorebirds, and his name is Paul Panaccione. He only recorded two hits over the two games, but both left the yard, and he drove in a whopping seven runs. His efforts, along with clutch hitting up and down the Suns lineup, fueled a seven-run comeback in game one, and a confident victory in game two, sweeping the doubleheader with 9-8 and 8-5 wins. The Suns are now 62-50 and the Shorebirds have lost 11 in a row, at 49-63. More importantly, the sweep put the Suns back into a first-place tie with the Hickory Crawdads with less than four weeks remaining in the second half.
The Suns completed the seven-run comeback in game one in the top of the sixth inning, still trailing 8-5. Steven Klimek was still on the mound for the Shorebirds, and with one out he walked Anderson Franco. After a coach's meeting at the mound, he struck out the next better, bringing up Paul Panaccione. Having already hit his first home run of the season, he decided that one more sounded nice. A blast to centerfield for his fourth and fifth RBIs of the night made it 8-7, but the Suns were not done there. Blake Perkins followed with a walk, forcing Shorebirds manager Ryan Minor to bring in Jake Bray (2-4) out of the bullpen. Perkins stole second with Tyler Beckwith batting, and then Beckwith smacked a triple to center field, tying the game at eight and officially sending all of the momentum over to the Suns dugout. That was channeled by Aldrem Corredor, who knocked home the go-ahead run with a single to shallow center field, putting the Suns up for good, 9-8.
Sam Held pitched the final six outs to record his second save of the season, but the Shorebirds put runners aboard in each inning. Stuart Levy singled with one out in the bottom of the seventh against Held, but he induced a fly out and a groundout to second to end the ballgame and give the Suns the victory, tying their season-best for largest comeback of the year. The Suns previously came back from down seven against the Hickory Crawdads in a 10-9 May 6th victory.
Panaccione helped things continue in the right direction for the Suns in the fourth inning, down 8-2. Nick Banks walked to lead off the frame against Delmarva starter Matthias Dietz, and with one out, Oliver Ortiz reached on a line drive single to center. Panaccione hit his first homer of the season a deep drive to left field, scoring a trio of Suns and making it 8-5.
It was all Delmarva early in the ballgame, scoring four runs in each of the first two innings against Suns starter Ben Braymer. Making his second start for Hagerstown, he got off to a shaky beginning by allowing the first five men to reach base. The Shorebirds went single, walk, single, hit by pitch (Collin Woody, scoring the game's first run), and double (Jake Ring, scoring all three runners on base). He would settle down and prevent Ring from scoring, taking the four-run deficit into the second. After the Suns got on the board thanks to an Anderson Franco RBI single, the long ball hurt Braymer again. He allowed a double to Ryan McKenna to put a pair of runners aboard before allowing a run-scoring single to Preston Palmeiro, and a two-run home run from Woody before it was suddenly 8-1 Delmarva.
Corredor and Panaccione were the lone Suns to record multiple hits in the opener of the doubleheader, while Kyle Simonds (5-0) and Sam Held (2nd save) pitched five total innings of scoreless relief.
Paul Panaccione continued his hot start to the series by driving in two more runs in Game 2, giving him a grand total of seven over both ends of the doubleheader. He walked to kick start the six-run third inning, and drove in a run via a sacrifice fly in the fourth. Entering the day, Panaccione only had four RBIs the entire season.
Six runs were put up in the third inning for the Suns, who initially trailed 1-0 at that point. Following the bases loaded walk by Panaccione, Jake Noll struck a sacrifice fly to center field to score Blake Perkins from third. This meant yet another two-out rally was coming for the Suns, something that has been so crucial to their recent success. Nick Banks provided a big blow with a triple to center field, scoring Panaccione and Aldrem Corredor, doubling the Suns run total and making it 4-1. After a walk from Tyler Beckwith forced Travis Seabrooke (3-6), the Shorebirds starter, out of the game, Oliver Ortiz greeted reliever Cody Dube with a double to right field, scoring Banks from third and making it 5-1. Adderling Ruiz wanted to make sure six was the lucky number in this inning, and he hustled out a grounder to third for an infield single, scoring Beckwith and capping off the inning with a 6-1 lead.
The Suns piece mealed the game from a pitching standpoint by switching things up, giving Steven Fuentes the start. He allowed a pair of runs through two-plus innings of work, but struck out four. Jake Barnett (1-0), was the next man in and his job was to hold the Suns lead, which he did successfully. He tossed 3.1 innings and scattered six hits across that time on the mound, striking out three. He was pulled in the bottom of the sixth with a sticky situation arising: the bases loaded, no outs, and a run already home thanks to a ground-rule double from Daniel Fajardo. Phil Morse came in while he allowed a single to Ryan McKenna to score one and a groundout from Palmeiro that scored another, he got out of the inning with a three-run lead intact and held down the fort in the seventh to complete the doubleheader sweep and earn his fourth save.
Speaking of doubleheader sweeps, it marks the third of its kind this season for the Suns, and the first time in eight tries on the road. Several men played key roles in this second game, highlighted by the big day from Adderling Ruiz, who went 3-3 with a run scored and two runs batted in. Panaccione drove in two and Banks drove in two with his triple. Blake Perkins and Tyler Beckwith were the two Suns to score a pair of times.
The series and the road trip wraps up tomorrow for the Hagerstown Suns, with a 7:05 EST start time against the Delmarva Shorebirds. Brigham Hill (0-0, 3.60) makes his second start for the Suns and he will be opposite of Jhon Peluffo (6-5, 3.66). Following the game, the Suns will return home to begin a four-game series against the West Virginia Power, who have won seven straight. The series is full of promotions: Thirsty Thursday, Fireworks Friday, First Responders Night (and a bobblehead giveaway) on Saturday, and Sunday Funday. For tickets, head on over to www.hagerstownsuns.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.