HAGERSTOWN —Hagerstown manager Brian Daubach had the perfect word to sum up the Suns’ Sunday at Municipal Stadium.
It may not have been perfect, but it was the closest thing to it. The Suns shucked the remnants of a hitting funk that ended any chance of winning a division title by unloading 19 hits in a 11-4 rout of Delmarva in the first-half finale.
The stars were many for Hagerstown, which won its final two games after enduring a six-game losing streak that knocked them out of contention for the South Atlantic League Northern Division title.
“Every starter got a hit and (Adrian) Sanchez came off the bench to get one,” Daubach said. “This was a good one to go into the break on. A 40-30 record … you can’t complain.”
Complaints would only tarnish Sunday as hot hitters remained hot while those who were struggling came alive. Hagerstown fell behind 2-0 in the first inning before scoring 11 unanswered runs in the third through seventh innings to snuff out the Shorebirds (35-35).
The Suns tied the game with two runs in the third before blowing it open with a five-run fourth by sending 10 hitters to the plate.
Michael Taylor ignited the Suns in the third and fourth innings with two key doubles and two RBIs. Kevin Keyes and Wade Moore added home runs. Keyes laid down a bunt single, which keyed the five-run rally, before hitting his third homer in two days in the fifth. Moore, who went 1-for-4 with four RBIs, capped Hagerstown’s scoring with a two-run shot to right in the seventh. Four Suns had three-hit games.
“The last two nights, we have swung the bats well,” Daubach said. “That six-game losing streak was tough. We have some guys who are banged up, but I’m real happy about the ways the guys came out to compete.”
The Suns unloaded the outburst without the services of Bryce Harper, who missed his second straight game because of a sore thumb. The Washington Nationals top selection from the 2010 draft enters the All-Star break with a .330 average.
The Suns got an unexpected addition to the bullpen on Sunday, though, when the Nationals sent reliever Chad Gaudin to Hagerstown for a two-inning rehabilitation appearance. He faced eight batters, allowing two hits, in his first action since going on the disabled list with an inflamed right shoulder.
Delmarva took a 2-0 lead in the first as Suns starter Sammy Solis battled through a wild start. Two walks helped prolong the Shorebirds’ inning, which was capped by Mike Flacco’s RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Michael Ohlman.
The Suns tied the game at 2 in the third as Hagerstown started to figure out Delmarva starter Scott Copeland. Cole Leonida hit a leadoff single and took third on Taylor’s double down the right-field line. The Suns plated the runs on Moore’s sacrifice fly to center and Jason Martinson’s single.
Hagerstown blew the game open in the fourth, starting with Brett Newsome’s double off Copeland’s first pitch. After Keyes bunt, Leonida laced a one-out, RBI double to right, followed by a two-run double by Taylor to give the Suns a 5-2 lead. Taylor moved to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Moore’s grounder to second. Martinson re-ignited the rally with a single and a stolen base before Blake Kelso’s RBI single.
“His first pitch was a fastball. I saw it well, but I figured I wasn’t going to get another one,” Taylor said. “Before the game, I went out to the batting cage and I had (catcher) Sam Palace throw me some curves. That made a big difference because I was ready after seeing 40 of them before the game. (Hitting coach Marlon Anderson) keeps telling us the work you do before the game will give you confidence.”
The Suns tacked on a run in the fifth when Keyes hit a leadoff homer just inside the left-field foul pole off reliever Randy Henry. They added another run in the sixth on Newsome’s RBI single, this third hit of the game before Moore’s homer to right in the seventh.
“They were situations where you just have to find a way to get a run in with less than two outs,” Moore said. “(Taylor) really anchored it. You love to see a guy do that when you are standing in the on-deck circle because when he gets on, it takes a load off your shoulders.
Delmarva picked up a pair of runs in the ninth off Chris Manno on a two-run double by Ty Kelly.
Solis lasted four innings, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks, while striking out five. Ben Graham (3-3) got the win with one inning of relief.
Martinson, Newsome, Leonida and Keyes had three hits each.
Five members of the Suns - catcher David Freitas, pitcher Taylor Jordan, Manno, Harper and Kelso - will be in Tuesday’s SAL All-Star Game in Salisbury, Md. Daubach will manage the Northern Division stars while the Suns’ Chris Michalak will serve as pitching coach.