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Suns lose concentration, not game

August 24, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns found out there's a real good reason for keeping their game face on for an entire game.

That is because when they decided to take it off early, the whole complexion began to look pretty ugly.

The Suns dozed off in the ninth inning by allowing Charleston (S.C.) to score six runs in the final two innings. It gave what had been a laugher the feeling of being hit over the nose with a rolled-up newspaper as the Suns had enough to hold on for a 13-9 win over the RiverDogs at Municipal Stadium.

"It was a total lack of concentration by this team," said Suns manager Marty Pevey. "I guess it goes with being eight runs up in a game. It goes to show them, if you don't wear your game face for nine innings, someone is going to come and whump you on the side of the head."

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It seemed to easy for the Suns (34-30, 78-56 overall). Hagerstown used a five-run second inning, keyed by Chris Hayes' three-run double, to take a 7-0 lead after three innings. The Suns could have graciously accepted Delmarva's loss to Charleston (W.Va.) to move back to within one game of the South Atlantic League Northern Division lead, but they didn't.

Instead, Charleston (31-33, 62-72) scored three runs off starter Matt McClellan (8-6) in the fourth to make it a game again. But the Suns continued with two runs in sixth, seventh and eighth innings to take a commanding 13-5 lead, almost enough to start giggling.

But Charleston's comeback and Hagerstown's defensive lapses knocked the smile right off the Suns' faces.

"We didn't maintain our intensity, and we did a poor job of putting the game away," said Hayes, whose error in the eighth opened the door for the RiverDogs. "Myself ... the whole team ... we lost (our concentration)."

Charleston touched Woody Heath for four runs in the ninth with the help of two errors and the inability to finish off defensive plays. Scott Neuberger's two-run single and Cesar Izturis' fielding error opened the door for the comeback.

"They got a little complacent," Pevey said. "Not only on the mound but defensively, everyone got lax. When you do that on routine plays, that's a problem."

The Suns scored what proved to be the insurance runs in the seventh on Josh Phelps' RBI double and Cesar Izturis' RBI groundout for an 11-4 lead. Greg Morrison's grounder and Phelps' single gave Hagerstown it's two runs in the eighth.

Eight of the Suns starters had at least one hit in the 18-hit attack, led by Phelps and Izturis with three each. Hayes drove in four runs.

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