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Suns take their lumps

June 24, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Suns played like they were in London for afternoon refreshments on Wednesday.

The Suns looked like they were in a fog while taking one lump or two as Lakewood tea-ed, er teed, off on them.

Lakewood jumped on Suns' pitching from the very start, devouring fastballs like crumpets to build a 10-2 victory over the suddenly lifeless Suns before 1,290 fans at Municipal Stadium.

"They didn't miss any tonight," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "They hit all of our fastballs and we didn't do a good job locating them. I don't have any answers for why we aren't playing better. We just aren't putting it together like you would expect at this point. We keep working at it. We just got to keep sending them out there and let them take their lumps."

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Unfortunately, the Suns have been taking more lumps than school cafeteria gravy these days. Hagerstown has lost nine of its last 10 games, including the first two of the South Atlantic League's second half.

And Wednesday, the lumps just got bigger.

Lakewood hit starter Travis Nesmith for six runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings of work - including five in the BlueClaws' four-run second inning. Jesse English came on and allowed four more runs on three hits, including two damaging triples, in his 3 2/3 innings as Lakewood clubbed 14 hits.

"That's a good fastball-hitting team over there," Ramsey said. "They were ready to hit them and our pitchers weren't locating them well. With the exception of a couple of guys, our pitchers don't have command of their fastball. It's been happening too much."

What's been happening is the Suns find themselves trailing heading into the third or fourth inning and are forced to play "Chase" for the rest of the game. Wednesday was no different.

Lakewood batted around in the second, starting with Bryan Hansen's leadoff double. A sacrifice bunt and a walk later, Jose Cortez hit an RBI double and Omar Bramasco added a two-run single to give the BlueClaws a 3-0 lead. Michael Bourn added an RBI single to cap the four-run inning.

"It was one of those games when we got down early and it sort of demoralized us," Ramsey said. "We didn't make a real run at them to get back in it."

The Suns got a run back in the third on the first of Jesse Schmidt's two RBI doubles to get Hagerstown within 4-1. Schmidt's second double gave Hagerstown its other run in the fifth, but by then they were down, 8-2.

Lakewood posted two-run rallies in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to dismantle the Suns. Cortez led off the fourth with a home run to right and Bourn added an RBI double to chase Nesmith.

English gave up a run-scoring triple to Nick Italiano in the fifth and a two-run triple to Carlos Rodriguez in the sixth as Hagerstown's lumps started resembling welts.

Cortez drove in three runs with his two hits, while Bourn finished with three hits and two RBI.

Joe Wilson (2-4) allowed both Suns runs on all seven of their hits over six innings for the win. Mike Wagner and Schmidt had two hits each for Hagerstown (28-41, 0-2).

"This all part of being here. Let them take their lumps and let them get better," Ramsey said. "There isn't one phase of the game that we can say we don't need to improve on and we work on that every day when we come out here. We just got to send them out and battle through this, and once they do, maybe they can start a winning streak and get this thing turned around."

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