The Hagerstown Suns’ second baseman does his job between the baselines by keeping control of things between his ears.
Renda helped ignite two Hagerstown rallies with clutch at-bats on Sunday to lead the Suns to a 5-1 victory over Delmarva at Municipal Stadium, their third win in the four-game series.
Renda was almost automatic with runners on base as his single helped bring in the first run in Hagerstown’s four-run fourth inning before adding a sacrifice fly in the fifth to be dead center in all the action.
“It’s thought process,” Renda said. “You get a guy on second and I start thinking (about hitting the ball to the) right side or middle. When you get into that mindset, it settles you down and doesn’t let you try to do too much.”
It was just enough. Renda has been locked in for a good many of his clutch situations with his .293 batting average and 43 RBIs while batting the entire season in the top two slots of the batting order. He also had an RBI double during Saturday’s 6-0 victory over the Shorebirds.
“Tony never changes his approach,” said Suns manager Tripp Keister. “He is always focused no matter the situation and never throws any at-bats away. Everything is always on ‘On’ with him. When he gets up, you expect him to get the guy in almost to the point that when he doesn’t, you ask what happened. He’s a confident hitter.”
The Suns (60-43, 21-14 second half) went hitless through the first three innings but broke through in a big way in the fourth against Delmarva starter Juan Guzman (4-3) with the help of a double error.
Narciso Mesa led off with a double to the fence in left. Renda followed with a single to center that handcuffed center fielder Gregory Lorenzo. Mesa stopped at third but when Lorenzo misplayed the ball, he scored. Renda took second when Lorenzo threw wildly home for the second error.
After Shawn Pleffner moved Renda to third with a groundout to second, Brandon Miller hit an RBI single and then scored from first on Mike McQuillan’s double to right center. Will Piwnica-Worms singled to center for Hagerstown’s fifth hit of the inning and a 4-0 lead.
“I think sometimes it’s just contagious,” Keister said. “Tough at-bats can be contagious. When one guy puts one together, another guy follows. That’s what happened in that inning. We started to string things together. That’s the way we have done it the entire season.
Hagerstown added a run in the fifth as Stephen Perez and Mesa started the inning with singles to set up Renda’s sacrifice fly to right to make it a 5-0 advantage.
“It isn’t just me,” Renda said. “It’s was Stephen getting over to third on the single and that allows me to think about getting the ball airbourne. We did that and it was 1-0 Good Guys. We made adjustments. We hit flies to start the game and then when we turned the batting order over, we got a spark.”
Delmarva broke through against Suns starter Ian Dickson in the sixth as Lorenzo led off with a bunt down the third-base line. He stole second and moved to third on Lucas Herbst’s grounder to first before scoring on Anthony Caronia’s sacrifice fly to left to cut the deficit to 5-1.
Dickson (2-2), who came to the Washington Nationals organization in the Henry Rodriguez trade with the Chicago Cubs as a reliever, turned in his longest outing as a starter. He allowed a run on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts over six innings. Bryan Harper, Christian Meza and Justin Thomas each pitched an inning to close out the game.
The Suns defense helped along the way with three diving catches in the outfield and a diving stop by Pleffner at first base.
“We were aggressive on the bases and caused them to make bad throws,” Keister said. “But our pitching has been the story. We won three games in the series with two shutouts and allowing one run. Dickson pitched well and Meza pitched out of a jam in the eighth inning which was good and a good thing for him to experience.”
Delmarva strung three consecutive singles to load the bases against Meza with one out in the eighth. But the left-hander struck out Creede Simpson and Nik Balog to end the threat.
Guzman pitched five innings, allowing all five runs on seven hits while striking out three.
The Suns finished with eight hits as Mesa and Miller collected two each.