Faulty fieldings sends Suns to another loss

July 16, 2002|by DAN KAUFFMAN

For four innings Monday night, the Hagerstown Suns seemed poised to turn around their recent losing fortunes. They held a 3-0 lead, were hitting the ball and starter Todd Uzzell was in control.

Then the fifth inning arrived, bringing with it a summary of what has gone so wrong for the Suns in the last month. Suddenly, Uzzell started pitching up in the strike zone, Charleston (W.Va.) got hot at the plate and two errors contributed to the Suns' demise. Hagerstown's lead turned into a 4-3 deficit, and the Suns never pulled even in a 6-4 loss to the Alley Cats.

"We did a good job swinging the bats, we got 12 hits," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "I think our defense was the problem. A couple errant throws set up the (fifth) inning for them and scored some runs."


Quickly, what could have been a night of change became a night the Suns (5-20 South Atlantic League second half) are all too familiar with of late, as they lost their fifth straight game and 11th in 13 games.

Hagerstown took a 1-0 lead in the second when Scoop McDowell doubled and scored on Tomas Garrido's single, and Derin McMains' wind-aided two-run homer to right in the third put the Suns up by three.

Uzzell was steady through the first four innings, needing just 42 pitches. But in the fifth, he was touched for six hits and four runs - one unearned - as Charleston (15-9) took advantage of two throwing errors by third baseman Julian Benavidez.

Nonetheless, Uzzell persevered until the eighth inning, when Miguel Negron's infield single and a walk to Lee Delfino ended Uzzell's night after 7 1/3 innings. Negron later scored on Nick Tempesta's nubber in front of home plate that catcher Justin Knoedler threw away, giving the Alley Cats a 5-3 lead.

"(Uzzell) did a nice job," Ramsey said. "Some pitches were up at times, but he battled hard to get us to the eighth. If a couple plays are made, it might have been a different outcome."

Knoedler's solo homer in the bottom of the eight cut the lead to 5-4, but Mike Snyder's own solo homer in the ninth restored Charleston's two-run cushion.

The Suns left 10 runners stranded, including runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the ninth. But Benavidez popped out to short right field, and Tyler Von Schell hit into a fielder's choice to second to end the game.

"You get to the ninth inning, get two on with one out and the 4-5 hitters up, and you've got to take your chances," Ramsey said. "Nothing good came out of it tonight."

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