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Suns hit 'em where they are

June 23, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Suns' offensive strategy for tonight should be constructed after the players read about "Wee Willie" Keeler.

Keeler, who played for Baltimore, was known for his famous motto "Hit 'em where they ain't."

The Suns would do well to live by that philosophy after being shut down 4-1 by Lakewood on Tuesday at Municipal Stadium to open the second half of the South Atlantic League season.

Lakewood starter Scott Mathieson (5-3) ran his scoreless-innings streak to 15 with six shutout innings. He walked four and allowed only a second-inning single to Jesse Schmidt and a fourth-inning single to Jonathan Armitage.

Throughout the game, Suns' hitters made solid contact but most were shots that went directly at BlueClaws' third baseman Omar Bramesco and shortstop Carlos Rodriguez.

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"We just need to find a spark. ... We certainly would like to have generated some more offense and get the second half rolling," said Suns manager Mike Ramsey. "We need to have guys step up at the plate."

Someone coming to the front to take charge would be welcome for the Suns, who managed only four hits and finally averted the shutout in the ninth inning on an unearned run.

Brian Munhall doubled and Tim Hutting reached on an error by Rodriguez on a soft liner that should have been caught to end the game.

Lakewood, however, capitalized on the Suns' misfortune to get the lead.

Ahead 1-0 after Jose Cortez doubled and scored on a RBI groundout by Javon Moran, Lakewood added two runs in the fourth inning off Suns starter Ben Thurmond, who walked Jake Blalock to open the inning.

Randy Ruiz had an infield single and both runners moved up on a sacrifice by Bryan Hansen before Rodriguez lifted a fly to left. Armitage froze in his steps before coming in on the fly and when the ball hit took a nasty bounce away with two runs scoring.

For sure, it was not to be a good night when the Suns' Pat Dobson hit what looked to be a double down the right-field linet. However, Lakewood appealed and Dobson was called out for missing first base.

"The umpire said he stepped right over the bag," Ramsey said. "Patrick said he hit his back heel on the bag, but at that point you can't take any shortcuts."

Thurmond pitched well for Hagerstown giving seven strong innings with only two walks and six strikeouts.

"Ben has come on to give us quality starts and a good chance to win when he goes out there," Ramsey said.

Ramsey said first baseman Travis Ishikawa, who had been riding 7-for-8 streak, jammed a wrist on the recent road trip to Lake County and is on a day-to-day basis.

That's not good, especially when Nate Schierholtz is gone and the Suns' search for Mr. Spark is on.

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