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Suns end slide

July 17, 2002|by CURT HORNBECKER / Staff Correspondent

Brandon Florence spoiled a perfectly good slumber party.

The Hagerstown Suns' designated hitter clouted a 10th-inning, solo home run that not only snapped a five-game losing streak, but also got Chris Dusel and Patrick Martincic off the hook as the Suns registered a 6-5 win over the Charleston (W.Va.) Alleycats in South Atlantic League play Tuesday.

Dusel and Martincic, WHAG's play-by-play and color commentators for Hagerstown Suns games, vowed to spend the night atop the grandstand roof and not leave Municipal Stadium until the Suns broke the losing streak.

Florence's shot meant the tent could be packed away unused.

"There's nothing sweeter than when you get the ball like that," said Florence. "You don't feel it at all, and you know right away that it's gone."

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After jumping out to a 3-0 advantage, the Suns appeared ready to hand the win to Charleston, allowing three seventh-inning runs and two more in the eighth to fall behind 5-3. But Scoop McDowell reached on a one-out, ninth-inning error and moved to second on a Tomas Garrido single before pinch-hitter Kevin Alexander walked to load the bases.

Bryan Carter then delivered a two-run single off reliever Felix Romero (0-5) to send the game into extra innings, and set the stage for Florence's heroics.

"It's a mental grind every day," said Suns Manager Mike Ramsey of the losing streak. "We've been working hard, but the results have not been there for us."

Suns starter Francisco Liriano shut down the Alley Cats through six innings, but after sitting through a lengthy bottom of the sixth that included the ejection of Alley Cats' reliever Chris Mowday, Liriano gave up three runs on four hits in the seventh, giving way to Leiby Guzman in the eighth, who gave up a two-run triple to Rob Cosby that put Charleston up, 5-3. Closer Ryan Meaux (4-3) pitched the final two innings for the Suns - striking out four - to get the win.

"(Liriano) was really on his game," said Ramsey, "but we had a little longer inning with (Mowday) getting thrown out, and I think he lost his edge."

After scoring two runs in the first on RBI singles from Julian Benevides and Scoop McDowell, and another in the fourth on Robbie Meyer's two-out double, the Suns' bats fell silent until the ninth-inning rally behind the pitching on relievers Mowday and Steve Hecker.

"They brought in a couple different guys who just baffled us," said Ramsey. "But we're making progress offensively. Tonight we made our hits count."

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