Hagerstown, MD - The Hagerstown Suns held off a ninth-inning rally by the Lexington Legends, earning a 3-2 win at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Thursday night. The Suns improve to 23-31 in the second half with an overall record of 50-72 and will play the second game of a four-game set against the Legends with a 7:05 PM first pitch on Friday.
Neither team scored through the first three and a half frames, but Lexington plated the first run of the ballgame in the fourth against Suns starter Jackson Stoeckinger. Brewer Hicklen singled with one out, stealing second and third base. Manny Olloque doubled to right, driving in Hicklen to give the Legends a 1-0 lead.
The Suns tied it up against Lexington reliever Garrett Davila in the fifth. Alex Dunlap reached on an error to lead off the inning, going to second when Omar grounded out to short. Juan Pascal laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Dunlap to third and Nick Choruby singled to left, scoring Dunlap to tie the game, 1-1.
Hagerstown took the lead for the first time in the eighth against Davila and Danny Hrbek. Armond Upshaw led off with a single and went to third when Cole Freeman doubled to left. Jake Scudder singled to center, plating Upshaw to give the Suns a 2-1 lead while Freeman moved to third. Hrbek entered the game from the bullpen and was greeted by Anderson Franco, who hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Freeman and give the Suns a 3-1 advantage.
The ninth inning was full of drama, with the Legends loading the bases against Suns reliever Frankie Bartow. Olloque singled to right with a full count and Cristian Perez singled to left, putting runners at first and second. Marten Gasparini laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners up a base, but Bartow made a fielding error that allowed Gasparini to reach and load the bases. Jeison Guzman grounded into a force out to retire Gasparini at second, but Olloque scored to cut the Suns lead to one. Ricky Aracena reached on a fielder's choice ground ball to Omar Meregildo at first, who threw out Perez at the plate on a close play for the second out of the inning. Kyle Isbel grounded out to second, ending the ballgame with the Suns picking up their second-straight win with a 3-2 victory to open the series.
Stoeckinger threw six innings, allowing one run on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts in a no decision. Bartow (3-2) earned a win while allowing one run on four hits with two strikeouts over three innings of work.
Notes: Upshaw has a seven-game hit streak… Freeman extended his hit streak to six games… He also had his 23rd multi-hit game of the season… Scudder extended his hitting streak to five games… Meregildo's seven-game hit streak came to an end… Stoeckinger tied a career high with six innings pitched… It's the fourth time he's done so… He earned his third quality start of the season… Bartow set a new career-high with three innings pitched… Thursday's win ensure the Suns cannot lose the season series against Lexington as they took a 7-3 lead… Hagerstown is 5-6 when tied after seven innings of play… They're 30-3 when leading after eight innings… The Suns are 10-8 in August… They're also 16-16 in one-run games this season… Hagerstown and Lexington continue their four-game series on Friday with a 7:05 PM first pitch… The Suns will send LHP Tim Cate (0-1, 9.00 ERA) to the mound against Legends LHP Daniel Lynch (5-0, 1.32 ERA)… The broadcast can be heard, starting with the pregame show at 6:55 PM on www.hagerstownsuns.com by going to multimedia tab and clicking on "Listen Live"... The broadcast is also available on the Hagerstown Suns Radio Network in the Tune-In Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.