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Suns' loss difficult to Bear

August 04, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

When it comes to baseball, the Hagerstown Suns are still learning to be selfish.

This is one business when it is better to receive than give.

The Suns, after putting together a dramatic four-run rally to take the lead, gave it all back to Greensboro in the ninth inning on Tuesday when Ryan Bear connected on a three-run home run off closer Tim Alvarez to lift the Bats to a stunning 7-5 victory.

It was a game that turned into a bomb-squad version of Russian Roulette. After lowering the boom in the seventh, the Suns played the bottom of the ninth like it was lighting a long fuse and just stood with their fingers in their ears.

"That was a good game, but it was a tough one," Hagerstown manager Mike Ramsey said. "There's no problem ... we got into position to win and didn't do it. We didn't execute in the ninth inning with our pitching and they got the big hit."

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And that is about as simple as it could be said.

After Pat Dobson put the Suns ahead with a two-run triple in the seventh and Jesse Floyd preserved the 5-4 lead in the eighth with his third inning of sparkling relief, Hagerstown turned the ball over to Alvarez (2-6), who entered the game second in the South Atlantic League with 21 saves.

Alvarez opened by walking Ryan Schade, Greensboro's No. 9 hitter, who moved to second on Xavier Arroyo's sacrifice bunt. The left-hander Alvarez then went deep in the count against left-handed-swinging Kevin Randel before hitting him with a pitch.

Bear took advantage of the prolonged inning and lined an opposite-field shot that cleared the fence just inside the right-field foul pole for what proved to be the game-winning home run on a full-count pitch.

Alvarez got another out but let two more Bats reach base before being lifted for Sean Martin, who ended the rally.

"Tim's command was off," Ramsey said. "He walked a guy and then hit a left-handed hitter that we needed to get. He was running a lot of deep counts."

Hagerstown (13-25, 41-64) fell behind early before starter Ben Thurmond could get settled. Arroyo led off the game with a single and took third on catcher Dayton Buller's throwing error on a steal of second.

Arroyo scored when third baseman Jay Knowlton misplayed Bear's grounder. Ryan Blake capped the three-run first with a two-run homer to center.

Hagerstown got on the scoreboard in the third when singles by Knowlton, Tim Hutting and Jason Columbus produced a run against starter Adam Bostick to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Greensboro answered with John Ramistella's RBI double in the fourth to regain a 4-1 lead. Thurmond left after the fifth with the Suns' offense looking listless.

Floyd, who began the season in the starting rotation, dominated Greensboro in his three innings to keep the Suns in contention. He struck out five while walking one and allowing one hit.

"Floyd was outstanding," Ramsey said. "When he stays on top of the ball and finishes his pitches, he can really bring it. I thought we had it there."

It paid off in the seventh when Hagerstown got to starter Scott Nester. Knowlton singled, moved to second when Hutting was hit by a pitch and took third on Travis Ishikawa's fielder's choice before scoring on a wild pitch. Columbus hit a ground-rule double to right to score Ishikawa and bring the Suns to within a run.

After Nester hit Mike Wagner, Greensboro brought on Matt Saucedo, who walked Jonathan Armitage to load the bases. Dobson hit Saucedo's first pitch into the right-field corner, which would have scored all three runners, but Armitage slipped and fell rounding third and was thrown out at the plate.

It left the Suns with a 5-4 lead, setting the stage for the ninth-inning meltdown.

"We needed (Alvarez) to come in and get three outs and he couldn't do it." Ramsey said. "We gave them the chance and they made us pay."

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