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Suns fall behind, then fall just short

July 16, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

There is a point in time when the sublime turns into the ridiculous.

The Hagerstown Suns seem to have reached that point on Thursday.

The Suns turned into the horse trying to catch the carrot at the end of a stick, battling back to score 10, only to fall one short in a 11-10 loss to Lexington at Municipal Stadium.

"If you can't win scoring eight to 10 runs a game, you can't win," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "We couldn't quite get it. We swung the bats well tonight ... we've done it a couple of games in a row, but we can't find a way to keep ourselves in the game."

The Suns pitching staff was taxed and pillaged again. The runners off of five walks and a hit batsman that the Legends received all scored, including three free passes in a seven-run fifth inning. The fifth-inning outburst put Hagerstown behind 11-4 one inning after the Suns took a lead on Jonathan Armitage's solo home run.

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"We are in a pitching slump, just like a team can be in a hitting slump," Ramsey said. "We scored nine runs in Hickory, eight last night and 10 tonight and didn't win any of the games. Again, too many walks hurt us and we are throwing too many pitches."

The Suns have dropped five straight games since their dramatic 14-inning win on July 9. Hagerstown has been outscored 50-30 in the five games since, including a 20-9 loss last Saturday.

All nine Legends starters scored on Thursday.

The bottom fell out in Thursday's fifth-inning for reliever Sean Martin (4-3) as eight consecutive Lexington batters reached base after the first out. Chad Prosser walked and scored on Ervin Alcantara's two-run home run to give the Legends the 5-4 lead.

Martin loaded the bases by hitting Beau Hearod was hit by a pitch and Saul Torres walked, setting up a two-run double by Mamon Tucker and a two-run single by Freddy Acevedo to blow the game open.

"It was the middle part of the game that got us again," Ramsey said. "It was that shutdown inning that got us again."

The Suns got on the board with Tim Hutting's three-run homer in the second and Armitage's shot in the fourth against Chance Douglass (7-5).

After Lexington's fifth-inning outburts, Hagerstown got five of the runs back in the sixth off reliever Josh Muecke to close to within 10-9.

Five walks came Hagerstown's way, setting up a bases-loaded walk and a two-run triple by Brian Munhall to highlight the rally. Still, the Suns ended the inning with the bases-loaded.

Brian Wilson kept the Suns on the doorstep with two innings of one-hit relief, but Lexington got an insurance run off Joe Bateman in the eighth on Hearod's single to score Prosser, who walked.

The Suns got back within one run as Pat Dobson led off the eighth with a double and scored on Travis Ishikawa's single. Lexington called on closer Aaron Williams with one out in the eighth to get his 13th save.

Hagerstown started Ryan Sadowski in its never-ending search for a starting rotation. Sadowski lasted three innings, allowing three runs, but only one was earned.

"It's been difficult finding five starters," Ramsey said. "All these guys are young and have bright futures. All we can do is keep battling and hope we have some fight left. We have to try to score as many runs as we can and hope we pitch well enough to win ... and maybe both will happen on the same night."

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