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Suns sweep as SAL playoffs begin today

September 07, 1999|By BOB PARASILITI

Minor leaguers play baseball for the love of the game, the dream of fame and the hopes of a career.

But on Monday at Municipal Stadium, all that went out the window. The Hagerstown Suns were just playing for survival.

[cont. from sports page]

With the remnants of Tropical Depression Dennis playing hide-and-seek over South Mountain, the Suns finished the 1999 regular season by sloshing to a 5-4 and 6-3 sweep of the Delmarva Shorebirds in a pair of games that had absolutely no significance to the outcome of the playoff picture.

"This is ridiculous," Hagerstown manager Rolando Pino said. "It didn't have to come to this. Someone could have got hurt out there, on either team. We could have finished the one game and played another seven- or nine-inning game, but not two more that didn't mean anything."

In fact, the two teams nearly had to play three games on Monday, making up for the menace of Dennis. Only the fourth heavy rainstorm of the afternoon, this one coming at the completion of the second game, kept the marathon to nowhere from continuing.

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Jeff Maloney slapped a one-out double in the seventh to score Tyler Thompson to win the first game, which was the completion of the Sunday's game. Orlando Hudson and Matt Logan drove in runs in the third, leading the nightcap.

The wins allowed the Suns to complete the regular season with an overall record of 84-56 and 36-33 in the second half, leading to tonight's opening game in the best-of-3 South Atlantic League Northern Division playoff series against Cape Fear. The Suns entered Monday with the first-half title and a playoff berth in hand while Delmarva had been eliminated from the postseason on Saturday.

The heavy rain had the outfielders standing in casual water, making the ability to make plays treacherous. Anything hit down the left-field line was an automatic double as the ball hydroplaned to a stop.

If the Suns gained anything from the fiasco, which was ordered by the South Atlantic League office, it allowed the bullpen to get work and put Ryan Fleming, who had five hits in the two games, on a hot streak heading into the playoffs.

"It didn't matter if we played or not," Pino said. "The team is focused and ready to go (into the playoffs). I'm just glad no one got hurt. The playoffs will come down to a matter of which team executes and which one that can eliminate errors to decide who wins."

Today's playoff game against Cape Fear begins at 7 p.m. at Municipal Stadium.

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