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Suns set too early in 9-6 loss

July 01, 1999|By BOB PARASILITI

Sure, the Hagerstown Suns are a young team, but even they are too old for curfews.

Or are they? Thursday, they played like they were allowed out until seven innings or 11 p.m. ... whichever came first.

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The seventh inning came and went and so did the Suns' lead. Cape Fear scored six runs in the last two innings - including Thomas Pittman's game-winning, three-run home run off Jarrod Kingrey with two outs in a four-run ninth inning - to grab a 9-6 victory.

"That's a tough loss, especially when you go into the eighth inning with a 6-3 lead," Suns manager Rolando Pino said. "We played a heck of a game, but that's why you have to play nine innings. We played well for the first seven, but didn't execute in the eighth and ninth."

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And when the Suns (3-5, 51-28) failed to execute, they failed on all phases.

Thursday's game was one Hagerstown made a habit of winning during the first half, either by coming from behind, keeping a lead with strong defense or nailing it down with strong relief pitching.

All three were missing when it counted.

"We only made one error, but we didn't execute well, like hitting the cutoff man with throws," Pino said. "It wasn't a very good job by the bullpen tonight. We've got a lot of wins because of them this year. And even with that, we have to go out and keep scoring runs."

Kingrey (2-2), the Suns' fifth pitcher, came on in the eighth to hold a 6-4 lead, but allowed an RBI double to Aljereau Benjamin before shutting the door on the two-run rally.

Kingrey struck out the first two men he faced in the ninth, before issuing walks to Wilken Ruan and Albenis Machado and an RBI single to Scott Hodges to tie the game. Pittman hit his second pitch over the scoreboard for the winning runs.

The loss wasted a five-run first inning by the Suns off starter Trevor Wamback, who endured a one-hour, six-minute rain delay before taking the mound. Joe Dusan hit a three-run shot followed by Matt Logan's first homer since May 10 for a 5-1 lead.

It also tarnished an outstanding defensive outing by Mike Kremblas, who threw out five Crocs' basestealers and made a nifty tag at home plate to complete a double play.

Before the game, the Suns announced outfielder Juan Nieves was released from the organization and relief pitcher Tom LaRosa has decided to retire from baseball. They were replaced on the roster by left-handed pitcher Justin Stine and right-hander Thom Dreier, two selections by Toronto in the recent 1999 amateur draft.

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