Clock runs out on Suns' timely hitting

July 15, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns showed they are able to set a table. They just have trouble using the utensils sometimes.

Lake County gave Hagerstown ample opportunity to spoon up a big helping of runs for an early lead and assume first place in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division. But in the end, it was time to stick a fork in the Suns.

The lack of clutch hitting did in the Suns once again as Hagerstown stranded seven of its nine total runners in the first four innings against an erratic Sean Smith and was never heard from again as Lake County notched a 6-0 victory.

Hagerstown (47-42, 12-10) had two runners on in the first and fourth innings and left the bases loaded in the third with the help of five walks issued by Smith. The Suns squandered seven hits in the shutout, none coming when they needed them most.


"We could get the guys on but we couldn't do anything to get them in," Hagerstown manager Mike Ramsey said. "We had a couple of untimely strikeouts and that made it tough to get anything going. (Smith) gave us the chance to knock him around, but he got the key outs when he needed them."

Lake County, the Northern Division's first-half champ, found some of its earlier magic to break a seven-game losing streak. The loss ended Hagerstown's chance to tie for the division lead and pushed it back into fourth place, 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Captains.

The Captains scored single runs off starter Glenn Woolard in the second and fourth before breaking the game open with a four-run fifth. By then, Smith was out of the game and Daniel Eisentrager (8-1) came on to pick up the win with four innings of relief.

"That four-run inning had a lot to do with it," Ramsey said. "Strikeouts are going to happen, but when you punch out with guys on, you aren't putting any pressure on them to make a play. (Sunday), we were in a similar situation and we were able to get the hits then."

Smith issued three walks in the first, but Fred Lewis was caught stealing and Brian Buscher grounded out with runners on first and second to end the first threat.

Lewis reached on a one-out single before Kevin Alexander and Carlos Sosa drew two-out walks to load the bases. Smith got Buscher to strike out to maintain his 1-0 lead.

The fourth inning was more of the same as Kevin Kelly and Steve Holm singled but were left stranded as Smith closed his outing by getting Karl Jernigan to pop up and Lewis to strike out to preserve a 2-0 lead.

Eric Johnson singled off Woolard (5-4) in the second and fourth innings and scored both Lake County runs, the first on Bryan Kent's double and the latter on Javier Herrera's sacrifice fly.

The Captains blew the game open in the fifth as Woolard allowed runs to score on a wild pitch and Ben Francisco's double. Erick Threets relieved Woolard and allowed two more runs to score on a wild pitch and a double by Herrera.

Threets pitched three more innings - his longest stint of the season - to keep the Captains in check as the Suns waited for the offense to click.

"That was a pretty nice outing by Threets," Ramsey said. "He did a good job for us."

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