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Sosa kicks back, leads Suns

April 15, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Carlos Sosa got a chance to get excited about not getting excited.

It took some extra time and some added convincing on his own, but the Hagerstown Suns outfielder was able to flatline his anxiousness.

And it couldn't have come at a better time. Sosa collected his thoughts and then collected the game-winning hit by singling with one out in the 10th Monday to score Travis Ishikawa to give the Suns a 2-1 victory over Lakewood.

"I need to concentrate on every pitch," Sosa said. "I felt like in the last game I wasn't hitting (well). I need to take it easy."

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Sosa made contact on two of his other four at-bats, but was ahead of the ball and connected for grounders. But with runners on first and second in the 10th, he realized he needed to take a different approach.

His stroke became as short and sweet as his answers.

"Were you trying to relax at every at-bat?"

"Yeah," he said.

"Did you take extra time in the 10th?"

"Yeah."

"Was it hard to do?"

"Yeah."

But effective as he stroked a grounder through the hole on the right side of the infield off reliever Chris Rupert. Right fielder Mark McRoberts came up firing to try to cut off Ishikawa at the plate, but the throw went into the netting.

"(Sosa) has been anxious and hasn't been letting the pitcher come to him," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "He's been rolling (his wrists) over balls. It's difficult to teach young players to relax cause they get in a panic mode sometimes. It's a matter of waiting a hair longer and trusting your hands."

Kevin Kelly opened the 10th with a single but was erased by Ishikawa's fielder's choice. After Jason Columbus singled to left, Sosa ended the game.

Lakewood took a 1-0 lead off starter Merkin Valdez in the fifth on McRoberts' home run to left. It was only McRobert's fifth hit of the season, but four of them have been home runs.

The Suns evened the score in the bottom of the inning when catcher Brian Munhall singled and scored on Jake Wald's triple to right.

Valdez, who was the South Atlantic League's pitcher of the week, went six innings while allowing one run on three hits and a walk while striking out eight. The run raised his ERA from 0.82 to 1.06 but he has 28 strikeouts in 17 innings.

Scott Munter retired the BlueClaws in order in the ninth and 10th for the win. Josh Habel relieved Valdez and pitched two shutout innings.

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