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Rome burns as Suns' 'D' fiddles

May 11, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

There is a plague working through the Hagerstown Suns. It is called defense.

For the third straight game, errors were critical as the Suns lost to Rome 5-3 Monday in the opener of an eight-game homestand at Municipal Stadium.

One specific error - a Bill Buckner-type miscue by first baseman Travis Ishikawa - prolonged Rome's third inning to set the stage for Maryland native Steve Pyzik to launch a two-run double for a 3-0 lead.

Unearned runs were prevalent during Sunday's doubleheader in Hickory and manager Mike Ramsey had the Suns out on the field at 1:30 p.m., Monday for extra work.

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"We're a tired team right now," Ramsey said. "We worked on fundamentals, but our defense still hurt us early."

Pyzik, a Loyola (Md.) Blakefield and Clemson University graduate, is a native of Mt. Airy, Md., and had some friends in the stands as he also produced a run-scoring single in the sixth inning to give Rome (14-16) a 5-0 lead. Not bad for a third-string catcher with three hits on the year entering the game.

"This is my first full year of pro ball," Pyzik said after greeting some of his well-wishers. "Tonight was extra special."

The Suns (12-19) tried valiantly to rally in the final two innings with two in the eighth on a double by Nate Schierholtz that scored Tim Hutting and Jon Coutlangus.

In the ninth, the Suns plated a run when Ishikawa singled and Coutlangus doubled to right with one out. After a walk to Jesse Schmidt, Hutting was retired before Schierholtz sent Rome centerfielder Ardley Jansen to the wall in left center for the final out.

"We've been swinging the bats better and Schierholtz was hot on the road," Ramsey said. "We just need to start putting our pitching and defense together.

Rome starter Jake Stevens (2-1) kept the Suns off the scoreboard through the first six innings on four hits and no walks for the victory. He bested Suns starter Juan Serrato (2-1), who went five innings and struck out six.

The Suns just missed opportunities with the long ball. In the second inning, Jonathan Armitage ripped a ball on top of the bullpen roof in left that was ruled fouled. Later in the game, as Ramsey argued to no avail, Ishikawa launched a shot down the line in right that was called foul.

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