The strike zone and the Hagerstown hurlers had a hard time getting along last night, as they walked nine in a 7-3 loss to the Asheville Tourists.
Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez struck out the first batter, then walked the bases loaded in the top of the first. He struck out the fifth batter in the lineup and appeared headed for a Nuke LaLoosh inning (3BB, 3K) when Cutter Dykstra was able to knock down a grounder but unable to get a throw off, as two Tourists made the return trip home for a 2-0 lead.
Estevez settled down in the 2nd, walking just one, but gave up two more free passes in the 3rd as Asheville connected for a one-run single and a two-run double to push their advantage to 5-0. The 20-year-old Dominican would finish the night with six walks allowed, and as the old saw goes, that’s what killed him as five of the six base on balls came around to score.
Meanwhile, the Suns offense plodded along for a pedestrian three runs on seven hits. The first run came in the fourth with a leadoff walk by Dykstra and an error that was ruled a hit by Adrian Nieto to set up a first-and-third with no outs. Caleb Ramsey grounded into a double play to break up the shutout bid.
An inning later, Bryce Ortega led off with a double to center and took third on an infield hit by Hendry Jimenez. It would be the lone hit in 11 tries with a runner in scoring position. Billy Burns plated Ortega with a groundout to short for the second Suns run.
Ramsey would atone for his GIDP with a HR off the RF billboards in the sixth to for the third straight one-run inning. The Suns put on two in the 7th, one in the 8th, but went down in order in the 9th.
Three Hagerstown relievers followed Estevez out of the ‘pen, combining for five innings of one-run pitching with six strikeouts but walking three.
Hagerstown finishes up the regular season with an afternoon tilt, with Taylor Jordan taking the hill (3-3, 3.75) against Tyler Gagnon (0-0, 2.84). They will host the Game One of the Sally League Divisional Series on Wednesday against Greensboro, with Game Two in North Carolina on Friday (and Game Three on Saturday, if necessary).