Suns miss match vs. BlueClaws

April 23, 2001

Suns miss match vs. BlueClaws


Strankman tags out runnerPhoto: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

Bill Hayes is beginning to think he's a terrible matchmaker.

It seems like everytime the Hagerstown Suns manager tries to get a favorable date for his pitching staff, he gets stood up.

It happened once again on Monday. On two occasions, Hayes tried to work wonders. The Suns, once again, left him wondering.

The Hagerstown bullpen pitched tentatively in pressure situations and allowed two inherited Lakewood runners to score, which proved to be the difference in the Suns' 4-3 loss to the BlueClaws on a Businessperson's Special afternoon game Monday at Municipal Stadium.


Chris Jones allowed a runner left by starter Felix Diaz to score in Lakewood's two-run fifth and Jeremy Cunningham allowed one of Jones' leftovers to cross the plate with the winning run - be it on a groundout - in the seventh to end the Suns' three-game winning streak and a chance for a possible sweep of the BlueClaws.

"Diaz pitched a nice game," Hayes said. "When they got guys on base, I tried to get the matchups we wanted with the pitchers but it didn't work."

Diaz began to get in trouble in the fifth, allowing consecutive one-out singles to Gregg Foster and Carlos Acevedo to put runners on first and third and set up an RBI groundout to short by Julio Collazo.

Hayes immediately went to Jones to face Jason Barnette to get a left-handed pitcher vs. a left-handed batter matchup. Barnette singled Jones' third pitch to right to score Acevedo for a 2-0 Lakewood lead.

The Suns got one of the runs back in the seventh, finally breaking through against Lakewood starter and winner Keith Bucktrot (2-2). Elliot Strankman hit a one-out double to center, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Dan Trumble's grounder to first.

Hagerstown took the lead with two runs in the sixth when Jose Cerda singled and took second on Jason Ellison's sacrifice bunt and moved to third on Bryan Gann's single to center. Deivi Santos and Alex Fajardo followed with RBI singles for the 3-2 lead.

The Suns missed a chance to add on to the lead when Santos was thrown out at the plate by first baseman Reggie Griggs on Bryan Carter's grounder to first.

Jones (0-2) couldn't handle prosperity in the seventh. He allowed a leadoff walk to Foster before being chased by Acevedo's RBI double to left center field on an 0-2 count.

"Jones threw well until he got the lead," Hayes said. "Then, when he got the lead, he started to aim the ball. He walked the first guy he faces instead of letting him hit the ball. You can't defend against a walk."

Jeremy Cunningham came on and allowed a two-strike sacrifice bunt by Collazo before Barnette's grounder off Cunningham's glove to second scored Acevedo with the go-ahead run. It was the 12th inherited runner Cunningham has allowed to score in his last five appearances.

"They got the go-ahead run on a ball that didn't leave the infield," Hayes said. "You got to give them credit for putting the ball in play."

George Rodriguez shut down the Suns for 1 2/3 innings before Trevor Bullock closed the game for his first save.

"We showed a lot of character in coming back to get the lead," Hayes said. "It's tough to sweep anyone in three or four games."

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