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Blind as a bat?

Missed HR call costly for Suns

Missed HR call costly for Suns

June 24, 2002|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Suns were victimized by a stolen base on Sunday.

Not the conventional kind. This one was broad-daylight thievery by the umpires.

When umpires Bob Light and John Coons disallowed Branden Florence's solo shot to right center field in the first inning, it looked like an interesting sidelight to the game. In the end, it was probably the major turning point as the Suns rallied late from a 6-0 deficit only to fall 6-5 to the Bats.

"That first-inning home run makes the difference," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "The only two people in the ballpark not to see it were the two umpires. There is no question that it was a home run."

Because of the strange configuration of Municipal Stadium with eight-foot fencing in front of the 20-foot walls in left and right field, a yellow line is drawn off the edge of each fence to signify when a ball is a home run or is in play.

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With the Suns trailing 1-0 in the first, Florence stroked a shot to right center. The ball struck one of the advertising billboards, approximately six feet to the right the yellow line and ricocheted back onto the playing field. Without the home run signal, Florence ran full speed and ended up on third base.

Ramsey questioned the call, but the triple stood as called. Replays of tape on the local television camera clearly showed the ball hit to the right of the line and should have been a home run.

"It's not like it hit on the line and it was a judgment call," Ramsey said. "Don't tell me you don't know the ground rules of the field because we go over them before every game. Any guy sitting at the top of the bleachers after 20 beers could have seen that. I don't care who sees that, but someone has to see it."

The call didn't look like it would matter as Greensboro (3-1, 40-35) chipped away at Brian Burres (3-7) with three unearned runs on the way to a 5-0 lead.

Down 6-0, Hagerstown (1-3, 35-39) scored twice off Bats starter Eric Mosley (3-3) in the sixth on Tyler Von Schell's RBI single and an outfield error on a fly ball by Julian Benavidez.

The Suns loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth and got a wild pitch to bring the score within 6-3 while Francisco D'Jesus was batting. D'Jesus struck out to end the rally.

"Not having the home run in that situation changed the things I could do," Ramsey said. "With the home run, I might have been able to pinch-hit, but we were in a situation where we needed a three-run home run."

The Suns made one final pass in the ninth as Tomas Garrido drew a one-out walk followed by back-to-back RBI doubles by Kevin Alexander and Florence with two outs. Von Schell was intentionally walked before Benavidez popped up on the first pitch to end the game.

"We didn't do much early and we didn't make the defensive plays here and there, but we still stayed in the game and battled," Ramsey said. "When we earn a run with a home run, we should get it. I'm not going to say we would have won the game, but we should still be playing."

Suns Today: at Delmarva

Time: 6:35 Radio: WHAG 1410

Probable Starters:

Suns - Todd Uzell (0-0, 40.50)

Delmarva - TBA

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