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Suns fail to alter familiar pattern

August 10, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

It's getting to the point when these kinds of losses are a fashion faux pas for the Hagerstown Suns.

"We didn't make any adjustments against another lefty," Hagerstown manager Mike Ramsey said. "It was another soft-throwing lefty. They are all cut from the same cloth."

That has been the fabric of the season for the Suns as they continue to fail to make alterations. On Monday, Asheville starter Aaron Marsden was the latest left-handed pitcher to keep the Suns in stitches, this time in a seven-inning outing for a 4-2 win.

"They don't throw hard," Ramsey said of the trend. "They throw off-speed stuff and get it over. We don't make them get the ball up and we swing at balls out of the zone and in the dirt. We had trouble staying back against (Marsden)."

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Marsden and Suns starter Jesse Floyd had problems in the opening stages of the game after a delay caused by Willie Mays' return visit to Hagerstown 54 years after he made his professional debut at Municipal Stadium.

The first three Asheville batters reached against Floyd, who was making his return to the Suns' rotation. Jonthan Herrera singled, but was out stealing before Luis Guance drew a walk. Guance took second on a wild pitch before run-scoring singles by Ian Stewart and Trey George provided a 2-0 lead.

Hagerstown looked like they would get past their lefty-phobia in the first. Marsden allowed Jesse Schmidt a leadoff single and Tim Hutting doubled before Eddy Martinez-Esteve singled to cut the deficit in half. Jason Columbus tied the game at 2-2 with a fielder's choice grounder.

Asheville regained the lead when Stewart walked and Christian Colonel singled to lead off the third. After a double steal, Eddie Montague's grounder provided the 3-2 lead.

Meanwhile, Marsden improved the longer he pitched, allowing just two walks and a fourth-inning single to Jonathan Armitage after the first inning. He retired 18 of the last 21 batters he faced.

"He got sharper," Ramsey said. "He was throwing on the corner and carving out a spot on the outer half of the plate. He was going so well, he was getting the borderline pitches. We couldn't do anything against him in the middle part of the game. We had him on the ropes early, but didn't do a good job adjusting."

Marsden allowed two runs on four hits while walking three and striking out four.

Asheville, which won three of the four games in the series, got its insurance run in the sixth on Herrera's RBI single.

The Suns finally showed some life again in the ninth against right-handed closer Jason DiAngelo. Mike Wagner led off with a single and Brian Munhall singled to become the tying run on first with two outs. Schmidt struck out to end the threat.

"Even with all that, we still had a chance in the ninth," Ramsey said.

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