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Suns give one away to 'Dogs

April 24, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Sometimes the even the most optimistic of optimists can lose his optimism.

Through all of the Hagerstown Suns' early-season problems, manager Mike Ramsey has acted Teflon under a melted cheese attack ... he's let everything slide off while eagerly looking for the better days ahead.

Those expectations of a bright future became partly cloudy after Wednesday though. The Suns committed three errors in the final three innings, which led to five runs and a 8-7 loss to the Charleston (S.C.) Riverdogs in a Businessperson's Special at Municipal Stadium.

"We gave them a lot of help today from the sixth inning on," Ramsey said. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it ... we absolutely didn't play well defensively."

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The Suns held leads of 3-1 and 4-3 before their defensive lapse turned into total collapse.

Charleston (13-5) turned the game around by tying it at 4-4 in the seventh on a botched fundamental play. Vince Harrison grounded to third with runners on first and third and one out. Trae Duncan broke to the plate as third baseman Kevin Kelly threw to the plate.

Catcher Dayton Buller began running Duncan back to third but his throw back to Kelly went off the runners back for an error to score the run.

The eighth was the beginning of the end for the Suns (7-11). It started when Elijah Dukes' grounder went through shortstop Jake Wald's legs, which opened the door for Nate Dion's two-run single for a 6-4 lead.

After a fielder's choice put runners on first and third, Jason Pridie broke for a steal of second base. Buller stood up and made the throw to nail the runner, but neither middle infielder broke to make the play. The ball went into center field, allowing Duncan to score Pridie to move to third.

He scored on reliever Matt Palmer's wild pitch for an 8-4 lead.

"We were holding the ball on that steal. The sign was on and we weren't worrying about the runner there, but he made the throw," Ramsey said. "We played poorly and we gave them the game. They are a good team, but we aren't playing solid enough right now."

Kevin Kelly put the Suns back into contention, first giving them the 4-3 lead with a solo homer to right center in the sixth. He gave Hagerstown a chance to pull out the game with a three-run home run to the same spot in the eighth to cut the deficit to 8-7, but the Suns failed to rally in the ninth.

Hagerstown starter Clay Hensley pitched well through his five innings, allowing two hits and striking out nine before leaving with a 3-1 lead. Charleston got to Hensley in the fourth when Harrison tripled between center fielder Fred Lewis and right fielder Randy Walter and scored on Duke's fielder's choice.

The Suns answered with three in the fourth off starter Scott Autrey on a two-run double by Jason Columbus and RBI single by Travis Ishikawa.

Charleston tied the game in the sixth on Brent Cordell's two-run homer off reliever Vance Cozier (0-1), who was touched for six runs in 2 1/3 innings.

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