The loss marks Hagerstown's second defeat in the opening game of a postseason series this year, having also lost the first game of a best-of-five against the Delmarva Shorebirds last week.
"You get the feeling that we've come back before," Suns manager Gene Richards said. "But I don't know that we've come back against Kannapolis."
The Suns kept it close through five innings, with starter Jeff Landing holding Kannapolis – a White Sox farm club – to two runs and six hits through the first five frames.
But it all came unhinged in the sixth. The inning started with an error on first baseman Jim Burt, setting up a long two-run homer to left by Dave Cook – one of two on the night for the Kannapolis left fielder.
The home run to Cook came on a change-up, a selection which Richards lamented. In hindsight, the manager said that Landing should have tried his more dominant sinker.
"You hate to see a guy beat on his second-best pitch," Richards said.
Landing was lifted after allowing another hit in the inning, but reliever Joe Serfass wasn't able to stave off further damage. The righthander bobbled a Boomer Berry squeeze play to plate a third run, and Chris Getz roped a RBI double to deep right-center to score the fifth run of the inning.
"We allowed them to have their way with us and take control of the game," Richards said.
In a series where pitching will likely tell the final story, Kannapolis' Carlos Torres was a fine author.
The right-hander limited Hagerstown to a run on three hits over eight innings, striking out six and making efficient work of the Suns to give his club a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-five series.
"He came into Hagerstown like Sherman, or Grant or someone," Richards said.
Grant Psomas hit a solo home run in the ninth inning to cap Hagerstown's scoring.
The Suns play Game 2 – their final home game of the season – at Hagerstown's Municipal Stadium Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. Starting for the Suns will be right-hander Jose Sanchez.