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Suns show good side, bad side in loss

April 18, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

It took a bit of the spectacular to cover up the obvious for the Hagerstown Suns.

And in either case, neither came up good for the Suns.

Charleston left fielder Brian Patrick threw out Hagerstown pinch runner A.J. LaBarbera at the plate to make Ryan Roberts' 13th-inning home run stand up Saturday for a 9-8 come-from-behind victory over the Suns before 2,332 fans at Municipal Stadium.

The sudden finish only camouflaged the Suns' sins of squandering an 8-2 lead after a seven-run third inning in Hagerstown's best output before the home crowd.

"I would say that the last play shouldn't be the focus of this game," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "It was that we lost a six-run lead and lost it right away. We battled for eight runs today and that should be enough, but it wasn't."

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The game-ending play was the final page of a game with many chapters for the Suns - both good and bad.

* Good - Hagerstown sent 11 batters to the plate in the third, which was highlighted by back-to-back home runs - a grand slam by Mike Wagner followed by Jason Columbus' solo shot.

* Bad - Starting pitcher Ryan Sadowski came out in the fourth and allowed five consecutive singles, a walk and a sixth single to give back five of the runs, reducing the lead to 8-6 before being lifted with the bases loaded and none out.

"We had it all going our way in that third inning and then getting that 'shutdown' inning is important," Ramsey said. "You got eight runs and you think it's enough, but then we went out there and couldn't get an out."

n Good - Travis Nesmith relieved Sadowski and walked Clint Johnston to bring in the seventh run before striking out the side to end the inning. Nesmith then struck out the side to end the threat and went on to throw four innings of hitless pitching with eight strikeouts to keep the Suns in the lead.

n Bad - Charleston's bullpen was equally effective, holding the Suns to five hits over the next 10 innings as Hagerstown failed to get any clutch hits the rest of the way.

"It thought a seven-run inning would ignite us," Ramsey said. "It didn't sustain us. We didn't get a lot done late."

Charleston's Mike Galloway homered off Suns' closer Tim Alvarez with two outs in the ninth to tie the score at 8-8 and send the game in extra innings.

It stayed that way until the 13th when Roberts ruined a fine relief outing by Hagerstown's Sean Martin (0-1) with his one-out homer to right, his second of the game. Martin carried the Suns through four innings of work.

The Suns got their chance in the bottom of the inning, starting with Dayton Buller's one-out single to right. LaBarbera replaced Buller on the basepathes and took second on closer Brian Reed's wild pitch.

With two outs, Jon Coutlangus hit a hot grounder through the hole at short with LaBarbera moving on contact. Patrick charged the ball and fired to home as LaBarbera rounded third base. The throw was on target to catcher Robinzon Diaz, who blocked the plate to record the final out.

"With two outs, we had to go to score the tying run, there was no question," Ramsey said. "If there was only one out, there were other things to consider. The left fielder made the throw and the catcher blocked the plate. They did everything perfect."

Felix Romero (1-0), the fourth of Charleston's five pitchers, got the win after wiggling out of a jam in the 12th. Romero pitched three inning, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out five.

Roberts had three hits to lead Charleston while Galloway and Juan Peralta added two hits. Columbus and Pat Dobson had three hits each for the Suns (2-5), who lost for the fifth straight time.

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