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Suns make it close, but lose

June 23, 2000|By BOB PARASILITI

Josh Holliday didn't wait long to see it.

Rolando Pino wasn't around to see it.

And the Charleston RiverDogs almost couldn't believe what they were seeing.

cont. from sports page

The opening of the second half of the South Atlantic League season left many rubbing their eyes in disbelief. But it came down to one fact, one that the Hagerstown Suns tried in a wild 12-11 loss Thursday at Municipal Stadium.

"We were lucky to be in it at the end of the game," said Pino, who was ejected with one out in the ninth inning. "Once in a while, you can win a game like that, but you can't spot a team a 10-1 lead and expect to win."

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Hagerstown trailed 10-1 after 4 1/2 innings as starter Marcos Sandoval had another shaky outing. The Suns (0-1, 34-37) watched RiverDogs' center field phenom Josh Hamilton go 3-for-5 with five RBI, including a first-inning, two-run homer. Shortstop Jace Brewer had two triples and three RBI in his professional debut as Charleston (1-0, 36-35) led 12-7 heading into the bottom of the ninth.

The Suns, showing some power and resiliency they missed in the first half, didn't go down easily against reliever Jose Ortiz. Brandon Jackson walked and Reed Johnson reached on an infield single to raise hopes.

Ryan Bundy, who hit a two-run homer in the Suns' four-run fifth, lined a shot off Ortiz's glove to the infield near short. Third baseman Yurendell Decaster picked the ball up with a dive and flicked his glove at the passing Jackson, who was called out. That caused the argument that gave Pino his early shower.

After Shannon Carter walked to load the bases, Josh Holliday was called on to pinch hit. He took longer to choose a bat than it did to use it.

Holliday clubbed Ortiz's first pitch over the right-field wall for a grand slam to turn the blowout into a one-run game.

"I wasn't expecting anything when I went up there. I just got my bat and glove and just went up there," Holliday said. "I just was looking to cut loose on a pitch. He just happened to get it over the plate and down where I like it. It just happened so fast."

Kevin Cash kept the Suns' hopes going with a sinking liner to left that became a double when Angel Batista snapped his wrist while trying to make a diving stop with one out. Hagerstown failed to drive in the tying run against Jesse Cornejo, who came on for the save.

Charleston scored in four of the first five innings against Sandoval. Hagerstown came back using Bundy's homer and back-to-back shots by Cash and Chris Weekly to get within 11-7 before the RiverDogs scored an unearned run in the ninth to set up the ending heroics.

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