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Bats top Suns behind good Day

April 16, 2000|By BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns waited to light the fuse on another explosive big inning.

Unfortunately, Greensboro pitcher Zach Day was the squirt gun that kept extinguishing the match.

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Day righted himself after a shaky start to finish six innings of five-hit pitching to take the spark out of the Suns and take a 8-5 victory on Sunday, handing Hagerstown its first loss of the year at Municipal Stadium before 1,482 fans.

"(Day) struggled early but settled down and did a heck of a job holding us down," Suns manager Rolando Pino said. "He started getting his breaking ball over better. You just have to give him credit."

The Suns' ability to score in bunches in the first two games was singled out by Day.

He allowed an unearned run in the first on Chris Weekly's RBI double - his first of three hits - and a leadoff home run by Kevin Cash in the fourth. Besides that, he kept the Suns from stringing hits together. Hagerstown (5-5) had two five-run innings and a seven-run inning against the Bats in the first two games.

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Day (3-0), who entered the game with a 0.75 earned run average, had four 1-2-3 innings and finished with eight strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the Suns were getting beat by the percentages. Walks, leadoff batters reaching base and errors all contributed to the hole Hagerstown dug itself.

Starter Brian Cardwell got hurt by Brad Ticehurst's leadoff walk in the third as he scored the first run in Troy Norrell's three-run home run. Reliever Matt Ford allowed Yhency Brazoban and Andy Brown leadoff singles in the fourth, leading to a run and a 4-1 deficit off Wily Mo Pena's double play grounder.

And reliever Rob Hamann was victimized by Brandon Jackson's throwing error for a run in the eighth, leading to Jeff Leaumont's RBI double and a 5-2 lead.

The Suns started to show life against the Greensboro bullpen an Auntwan Riggins walked and Shannon Carter singled to open the eighth, but the rally was snuffed when reliever Scott Oliver got Reed Johnson to hit into a double play.

Still, the Suns were a rally away until Hamann tired and issued a leadoff walk to Pena in the ninth and loaded the bases with singles to Ticehurst and Jeff Nettles before walking Norrell for the sixth run. Marc Bluma walked Todd Mitchell for another run and allowed Leaumont's sacrifice fly for an 8-2 lead.

"We were able to stay close and were still in the game," Pino said. "But walks, they always seem to come back and hurt you."

Greensboro's three insurance runs became huge, especially after Aaron Fera's base-clearing pinch-hit double off Jose Franco brought the Suns back within three runs, but the big inning died again.

"We lost, but we didn't give up," Pino said. "That's one thing you will always see in this team, it will never give up."

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