Crocs crash the party

June 09, 1999

Suns vs. CrocsBy BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

What started out as a possible clinching party ended up as a lynching party.

The stage was set for the Hagerstown Suns to close out the South Atlantic League Northern Division's first-half title on Tuesday. Someone just forgot to tell Cape Fear.

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Cape Fear slapped five Hagerstown pitchers around for 18 hits and 10 runs in the first five innings to put the Suns' party plans on hold for at least one more day in a 12-2 rout at Municipal Stadium.

Plain and simple, the Crocs (30-30) turned the tables on the Suns. Cape Fear got all the hits the Suns enjoyed - the bleeders and the bloops - in Monday's 11-4 loss.


"They hit everything we threw up there," said Suns manager Rolando Pino. "And everything they hit found a hole. You try to do everything you can to get back, but tonight we couldn't do anything to get back."

It has been a rare occasion that the Suns have sat on the receiving end of a firing squad. Hagerstown (41-19) has had their way with league competition, posting the best record in the league and one of the best in all of the minor leagues.

The magic number to clinch the title remains at two with 12 games remaining, meaning the Suns could lock up the title with a win tonight against the second-place Crocs.

"We want to win all our games," Pino said. "We weren't thinking about clinching the title tonight. We are still taking it game by game and looking to win as many as we can."

Even with the Suns' comeback capabilities, this game was over early. Starter Pat Lynch (5-1) hit his pitch count in three innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, including two hits and three RBIs by Josh McKinley. Marcos Sandoval lasted one-third of an inning, allowing five more runs.

"Lynch had good velocity but was a little erratic," Pino said. "He had too many full counts and got to his pitch limit. He had a couple of bleeders that hurt him. Sandoval was just all over the place."

The Suns managed two solo homers - one by Jeff Maloney in the second and the other by Jesse Zepeda in the third - off Cape Fear starter Chi Chi Rodriguez (2-4) to stay within 4-2 after three innings.

But Hagerstown left runners stranded at third in each inning, ending its two biggest threats.

Thomas Pittman all but ended the game with a solo homer off Mike Stafford in the fifth for a 10-2 lead. Cape Fear added two more in the ninth on a pair of bases-loaded walks from Orlando Woodards.

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