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Suns lose players, game

August 28, 2002|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

On a night when they lost some of their heart and part of their soul, the Hagerstown Suns lost their balance, too.

First, the Suns lost the services of outfielder Branden Florence and pitcher Ryan Hannaman - who each received promotions earlier in the day - and then they lost their ability for clutch hits in a 6-1 loss to the Lakewood BlueClaws.

Florence, who had become the heart of Hagerstown's batting order in the No. 3 slot, and Hannaman, who was scheduled to start today, were sent to help San Jose in its drive for a California League playoff spot. The move sapped some of Hagerstown's late-season momentum.

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"This is what it's all about," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said of the promotions. "San Jose is under .500 but they still have a chance to earn a wild card spots in the playoffs. I told (former Suns manager) Bill Hayes that he was getting a pair of good guys who could help him. So given our situation and that we have no chance ... It gives them a chance to get a taste of a higher level."

Still, it left the Suns at a bare minimum of players, especially in the bullpen, which came back to bite them.

Hagerstown collected 11 hits, but only one in the clutch to drive in a run and that was an seventh-inning single by Derin McMains to score Miguel Miranda, who doubled, to cut the deficit to 2-1. The loss of Florence took the South Atlantic League's sixth-leading hitter out of the lineup.

But the loss of Hannaman, moved Brian Burres out of the bullpen and into the starting rotation. Leiby Guzman was forced to pitch a second consecutive night and was touched for four runs in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

Guzman uncorked a wild pitch which opened the door for Ryan Howard's two-run single and Jeff Phelps' RBI hit to cap the rally that sealed the game.

"The wild pitch opened the door or three runs." Ramsey said. "But we had 11 hits, but it was a timing thing. Their hits came a the appropriate time and ours didn't come at the right times. It was a fine line ... a question of when you get the hits."

Lakewood scored single runs off Suns starter Anthony Pannone in the first and fourth innings, the second coming on a Howard monstrous home run to right. The Suns hurt their cause by hitting into three double plays.

The Suns surpassed the 100,000 fan mark and eclipsed last year's attendance (100, 690) with a crowd of 1,336 which gave Hagerstown a total of 100,849 for 2002.

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