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Suns' effort is one for the 'Birds

July 17, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Everything was going right for the Hagerstown Suns.

Hagerstown rallied for two runs in the ninth, had a runner on with two outs and the heart of the batting order coming up. It was everything the Suns needed for another come-from-behind victory over Delmarva.

Everything, that is, except for the final result.

Reliever Carl Makowsky struck out Kevin Alexander to put an end to the drama Wednesday as the Shorebirds used two home runs for all of their scoring in a 5-4 victory.

"We gave it a whirl," Hagerstown manager Mike Ramsey said. "We got that error on a popup to open the door and we got a couple of runs through. We even had the right part of the order coming up. Kevin just didn't get a chance to swing the bat."

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Neal Stephenson's three-run shot in the seventh and Ryan Hubele's two-run blast in the eighth were the extent of Delmarva's scoring. It was the league-leading 64th and 65th home runs allowed by Suns' pitching.

Hagerstown (48-44, 13-12) got the opportunity to come back from a 5-2 deficit with the help of Delmarva third baseman Rafael Diaz. Diaz, who had played sparkling defense until this point, dropped Randy Walter's routine infield popup to open the gates.

With Walter on second, Steve Holm hit a drive to right that sent Gregg Davies leaping into the fence to pull back a possible home run, turning it into a run-scoring triple. After Fred Lewis walked and Makowsky came in to pitch, Jake Wald averted a double play by legging it down the first-base line for a fielder's choice that erased Lewis and allowed Holm to come in to shrink the deficit to one.

Alexander came up and fell behind 1-2 before being called out on a borderline pitch by umpire Trevor Grieve to end the game.

"Kevin has a good eye, but never got the chance to swing the bat," Ramsey said.

It was the Suns' 19th loss in 34 one-run games this season.

Suns starter Josh Habel (6-5) and Delmarva's James Tiller (2-1) locked into a pitcher's duel through the first six innings. Habel struck out four straight Shorebirds in the first and second innings.

Meanwhile, Tiller held his own, only allowing a run in the fourth on consecutive two-out singles by Carlos Sosa, Kevin Kelly and Brian Buscher.

Habel sailed into the seventh but allowed consecutive one-out singles to Dustin Yount and Mike Done to set the stage for Stephenson. The center fielder launched a drive to right center for his seventh homer of the season and the 3-1 lead.

It was the last batter Habel faced.

"(Habel) made one mistake and it cost him three runs," Ramsey said. "I looked at the lineup coming up and his total and thought he still had 15 good pitches in him. It turned out he gave up a couple of singles and the left-handed hitter (Stephenson) would have been the last one he faced. We gave it a shot and it just didn't work out."

Buscher doubled and Walter's RBI single in the bottom of the inning moved Hagerstown within 3-2 before Hubele hit his two-run homer off Troy Ransom to create the final scenario for the Suns.

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