August 1, 2021

Sally League Showdown (Almost) Matches the Hype

May 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The showdown between two of the South Atlantic League’s best teams just about lived up to all the hype that preceded this week’s four game series as the Delmarva Shorebirds sandwiched two victories around two defeats to the Hagerstown Suns. Manny Machado, the Orioles top selection and 3rd overall in the 2010 draft was on the 7-day disabled list with a knee injury and so he and top selection Bryce Harper of the Suns did not appear on the field together; otherwise the series was all that fans could hope for even down to the ideal weather.

Manny Machado

Delmarva took the opener 3-2, receiving 5 strong innings from starter Tim Berry who held the Suns to 1 run in that span. The Shorebirds scored a run in the 8th when with two outs, Mike Flacco doubled home Ty Kelly. Yes, that’s Joe Flacco’s brother, and he demonstrated excellent hands and footwork around the first base bag throughout the entire series.

The Suns took the second game 7-3 before a crowd of 2,088 fans, most of whom were local grade-school students who were being treated to a ballgame.

The Shorebirds jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the 3rd in the third game, but Bryce Harper’s grand slam in the bottom of the inning brought the Suns to within one and he drove in the go-ahead run with a single to center the next inning. Hagerstown never looked back in an 11-5 victory.

Wade Moore (18), Michael Taylor (3), and Bryce Harper (34) with several members of the "Marlins" during the National Anthem.

It was Delmarva who fell behind 3-1 after three innings in the final contest, but rallied for a 6-3 victory behind some outstanding relief pitching from Cameron Roth who picked up the win, Clay Schrader, whose slider was freezing Suns hitters, and David Walters who notched his 10th save of the season.

Jonathon Schoop, who was playing third until Machado became injured, filled in admirably at short, demonstrating a tremendous arm and keen instincts for the game.

As for Bryce Harper, there is no doubt that he is a very special hitter. After going 9 for 17 in the series with 6 RBI, his average now stands at a league-leading .395. He also leads the league in on-base percentage (.473) and slugging percentage (.702). Every game is a war for Harper and every at-bat is a battle and no fan can ask for more. It appears, however, that Harper is still learning how to control his warrior mentality and fans in the Washington area should stop asking for his promotion to the parent club. The 18 year old not only tore the cover off the ball in this series, he also missed first base on what should have been a bunt hit, he ran into a needless out at second after singling in a run, he struck out 5 times including three times on curveballs, he committed an error while playing center in game 3, and several times he took questionable routes to fly balls.

None of which is to say that Bryce Harper is a flawed ballplayer; rather, it highlights the fact that the game ain’t easy no matter how much talent you have. Knowing Harper’s work ethic, I am sure that he will work on these subtler aspects of the game until he masters them.

Hagerstown and Delmarva meet again for home and home weekend series in the middle of June. It will be interesting to see who remains on the respective squads and who will have moved onward and upward by then.

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