Starting all over

June 24, 1999|By BOB PARASILITI

Second half opens with loss for Suns

So far this season, the Hagerstown Suns have been able to take things in stride.

But when the second half of the South Atlantic League season started on Thursday, Hagerstown staggered while Delmarva did all the walking.

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The Shorebirds used nine walks and two hit batsmen from five Suns pitchers to full advantage for a 11-1 victory that put the Suns in a strange place - tied for third place in the North.

Suns starter Taylor Smith (4-4) retired the first 11 Shorebirds he faced and sailed through the first four innings. But in the fifth, he suffered two losses, first his composure, then the game.


"Walks will get you everytime," Suns manager Rolando Pino said. "Smitty pitched four really good innings. Then in the fifth, there were a couple of pitches where he thought he got squeezed by the umpire. Those are just two pitches ... you gotta get by that."

Smith began to unravel with a leadoff walk to Matt Purkiss, followed by another to Tom McGee on a call that Smith thought he should have went his way. Umpire Ed Rogers didn't agree and the Shorebirds were learning to walk before they got runs.

In fact, five of the nine walks scored - including all three Smith issued in Delmarva's four-run fifth inning. So did one of the two hit batsmen. Three of the walks and a wild pitch led to four runs.

So, one could say the Suns called in and made a four-day weekend out of the All-Star break.

Delmarva (1-0, 27-44) got a two-run triple from Mike Diaz to cap the fifth and added six runs in the seventh with a combination of walks, five base hits and a costly error by Orlando Hudson.

The Suns (0-1, 48-24) had their fortunes change on three base running outs in the first two innings.

Most costly came in the first after Jorge Nunez's hit a leadoff single off John Stephens (4-6). After stealing second, Felipe Lopez lofted a single to right that Mack Haman missed on a diving try. Nunez tried to go from second to home to beat the relay throw.

Purkiss' throw got away from McGee at the plate as Nunez ran by the plate. McGee found the ball and tagged Nunez as he headed to the Suns' dugout. Rogers called Nunez out, saying he never touched the plate.

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