Behind slugging Difo, Suns tie Finals

Nationals prospect caps two-homer night with go-ahead blast in 10th

South Atlantic League MVP Wilmer Difo is batting .471 with three RBIs in four playoff games. (Tracy Proffitt/Hickory Crawdads)

By Mark Emery / MiLB.com | September 9, 2014 11:42 PM

On two occasions Tuesday night, Hagerstown took the lead, only to have Asheville tie it up. And on two occasions, Wilmer Difo put the Suns back on top with a home run.

The South Atlantic League MVP's solo shot in the top of the 10th inning gave the Suns a 4-3 win over Asheville that evened the best-of-5 Championship Series at one win apiece.

After going 1-for-5 in a series-opening loss, the Nationals' No. 20 prospect went 3-for-5 with tow homers and a double in Game 2.

"When we came here, they pitched him different and he didn't have too many hits," Hagerstown hitting coach Luis Ordaz said. "But this time, he kind of made some adjustments. He was sitting on the pitch.

"Both homers were on changeups. ... Good for him to make some adjustments like that."

Difo is batting .471 (8-for-17) in the playoffs after posting a .315/.360/.470 slash line with 14 homers, 90 RBIs and 49 stolen bases during the regular season. On Tuesday, he left the yard in the fifth inning after the teams traded runs in the fourth.

Jimmy Yezzo lashed an RBI double in the top of the sixth to give the Suns a 2-0 lead, but the Tourists tied it immediately on Zach Osborne's two-out two-run single.

After three scoreless innings, Difo came through again in the 10th -- just as he had made a habit of doing all season.

"When we need a base hit or we need a homer, he's up there," Ordaz said. "That's why they named him MVP of the league, because he carried the team the whole year. Now he's carrying them right now in the Finals. It's pretty good."

David Napoli (2-0) pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for the win, holding the Tourists hitless while fanning one and walking one.

Troy Neiman served up Difo's decisive blast over two frames.

After bouncing back from a 16-7 loss in the opener, Hagerstown will head home to host the rest of the series. Game 3 is Thursday.

"Today, we put pressure on those guys," Ordaz said. "We battled a lot."

Mark Emery is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Emery. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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