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Suns off for Labor Day, winter

September 08, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns got an eviction notice and a pink slip in one fell swoop on Sunday.

It was the day before Labor Day, but the Hagerstown Suns were out of work. The Suns were going home for the holiday in agonizing, uncharacteristic fashion.

The Capital City Bombers put on a relentless display, cracking four home runs in the first five innings to knock the Suns out of the pitching penthouse and ending their season with a 9-1 defeat at Municipal Stadium.

Clayton Andrews, who led the South Atlantic League with a 2.28 earned run average during the regular season, was victimized by Capital City's relentless attack, the hitting team in the league. The Bombers won the deciding game of the league's best-of-3 semifinal and advance into the best-of-3 championship series against Greensboro, which begins today.

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And in a world of playoff baseball, which is dictated by pitching and defense, the Suns showed neither. In fact, the defense was offensive, and the offense became defensive.

"You can't cry over spilled milk," Suns manager Marty Pevey said. "Fundamentals will do you in every time. I don't think Clayton had his best stuff today. Every mistake he made, they took advantage of. I really thought this was going to be a 3-2 or 2-1 game today."

It didn't take long for the game to lose its luster of playoff intensity and turn into the derailment of Hagerstown's express to a league championship. Maurice Bruce greeted Andrews with a leadoff home run to right field for the early lead. The Suns never solved the off-speed offerings of left-hander Kevin Dougherty, who shut Hagerstown out for seven innings before allowing a leadoff homer to Tony Peters in the eighth.

Besides the four homers, two by Bruce, the deciding factor may have been first baseman Greg Morrison's inability to catch two infield pop ups. The two miscues, one on Jason Phillips' foul in the second and the other on Thomas Johnson's pop in the fourth, led to six runs.

The abrupt end of the season was a heartbreaker but it was better than suffering a back breaker.

"I would have hated for the game to be 1-1 and to have something negative happen to decide the game against us," Pevey said. "Mo not catching a couple of pop ups hurt us. Those contributed to make this a blowout."

Capital City proved why it's one of the top-rated minor league teams in the country, according to Baseball America. The Bombers scored 26 runs in three games against as pitching staff which dominated the league in the regular season. They scored 15 runs against Andrews and John Sneed, who combined to allow just one run against Delmarva in the first-round of the playoffs.

"Those guys gave us a heck of a year," Pevey said. "Clayton, Sneed and (Matt) McClellan, you have to tip your hat to them. They did as well as they could. We just couldn't string any hits together."

And now, the Hagerstown Suns' season is over.

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