Cole Leonida did the only thing needed to end it all.
Nicol was the star of stars for the Suns on Friday with two dazzling catches in left field to go with three hits — including a leadoff double in the 11th — giving Cole Leonida the chance to hit a game-winning single up the middle to give Hagerstown a dramatic 6-5 victory over the Lexington Legends before a sellout crowd at Municipal Stadium.
It was the second straight night that Leonida drove in the winning run. He hit his first professional home run to lift the Suns in an 8-4 victory over Lakewood on Thursday.
On Friday, there was a little more tension.
“I could definitely get used to this,” Leonida said. “When we came in to hit, (hitting coach Marlon Anderson) said all we need is a double and a single. Sean took care of the hard part and I got a jam shot up the middle.”
It was a fabulous night for the Suns, especially coming two days after a debacle of a 7-2 loss on Wednesday. But Friday’s play made it all a distant nightmare.
“It was an exciting game in front of a great crowd,” said Suns manager Brian Daubach. “We picked it up where we left off last night.”
Nicol, who just started playing the outfield, led the way with two diving catches that kept the Legends off the scoreboard. The first was a diving grab of an Emilio King fly in the fourth that he turned into a double play. The second came in the seventh, again off a King drive to start a 1-2-3 inning.
Nicol connected on his double to right center off Lexington reliever David Martinez. He had no doubt he was going to be on second base.
“I was thinking double all the way, even if it was cut off,” Nicol said. “It was the 11th inning and I was trying to be aggressive and put myself in scoring position.”
Leonida followed with a grounder that rolled up the middle to start the Suns’ celebration.
The Legends took the lead in the top of the ninth with two outs against Suns reliever Sam Brown. King hit a grounder that was just out of the reach of Jason Martinson for a single. Tyler Burnett followed with a single to set up Ben Orloff’s triple to right to take a 5-3 advantage,
The Suns came back in dramatic fashion, starting when Martinson led off by reaching on an error by Orloff at short. Pinch hitter David Freitas batted for Mills Rogers and drew a one-out walk. Taylor came through again, this time on a 2-2 pitch from Martinez to deliver a two-run double to right center to send the game into extra innings.
The Suns broke out of the gates first with two runs in the second off Lexington starter Adam Sogard.
Justin Masterson led off with a single and took second when Sean Nicol’s sacrifice bunt attempt to the first base side turned into a single. Mills Rogers followed with a line single to left but Martinson was gunned down at the plate on an outstanding throw by left fielder Enrique Hernandez as the runners moved to second and third.
Cole Leonida grounded to short to score Nicol and Michael Taylor doubled to the right-cener field fence to bring home Rogers for the 2-0 lead.
Lexington came back with an unearned run in the third as Delino DeShields Jr. drew a two-out walk off Suns starter Robbie Ray. DeShields broke for second on Ray’s pickoff attempt to first, beating it for a stolen base. He went on to steal third and scored when Leonida fired his throw into left field to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Hagerstown got the run back in the fourth when Martinson led off with a home run to left, his ninth blast of the year.
The Legends used another unearned run in the fifth to get back within a run of the lead. Ben Orloff laced a double just inside the right-field line that Harper misplayed to allow him to reach third. Roberto Pena followed with a grounder to second to make it a 3-2 game.
Lexington tied the game in the sixth as Hernandez led off with a double to center and scored on Adam Bailey’s single to right.