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Suns home opener to feature fireworks on, above field

April 08, 2002|BY BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

When the Hagerstown Suns open the home portion of the 2002 baseball season, fans will be treated to some fireworks.

For those braving April's chilly nights, there will be a pyrotechnic display after tonight's 6:35 game.

But the airborne art may be a lot quieter than the bombs the Suns have been providing on the field. Win or lose, big innings have followed Hagerstown through the first four games of the season and will probably be a continuing feature of the franchise's 23rd season at Municipal Stadium.

The Suns try to overcome a 1-3 start after their opening series in Hickory (N.C.) when they open an eight-game homestand against the Charleston (W.Va.) Alley Cats.

It will be Hagerstown's full-season debut of the Suns' new ownership team headed by owner Andy Rayburn and general manager Kurt Landes. It will also begin the Suns 10th home season in the South Atlantic League and second year as an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. There have been promises of a new brand of excitement at Municipal Stadium.

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On the field, the team will be trying to provide some thrills of its own in the fifth game, using the overall formula that manager Mike Ramsey has for the Suns.

"I think we will be in a lot of games and will have a chance to win them," Ramsey said. "I think we will have a tough defensive team and it's a hard-working team that will stay in games. We need to get the timely hitting."

The Suns have played those close games for the most part of each of their first four games. It's just the method Hagerstown has chosen to keep the games close which has been as volatile as a blowtorch in a marshmallow factory.

Hagerstown's style of play has been the norm instead of the exception. The problem is the Suns have been on the receiving side of the equation almost as many times as they have been on the giving side.

On Sunday, the Suns were victimized by a nine-run seventh inning in a 10-3 loss to Hickory. On Saturday, it was a five-run seventh which did in Hagerstown in a 7-4 decision.

The Suns have lit the fuse a few times themselves. They battled back from an 11-4 deficit only to lose 11-10 after posting a pair of three-run rallies in the eighth and ninth innings of last Thursday's season opener. On Friday, Hagerstown scored five runs in the last two innings to come back from a 5-0 deficit, then won 7-5 on Tyler Von Schell's two-run homer.

Despite the sub-.500 record, the Suns have been flammable.

First baseman Von Schell, second baseman Derin McMains and third baseman Julian Benavidez have been the most consistent members of the Suns' offense in the early going.

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