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Suns cash in, drain Power

April 10, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Suns have started the season investing in winning baseball.

Saturday the Suns earned another dividend, mainly because a Grant cashed in.

Third baseman Grant Psomas continued his torrid start by going 3-for-4 to score one run and drive in another as the Suns hung a 2-1 decision on the West Virginia Power before 1,189 fans at Municipal Stadium to remain undefeated through the first three games of the season.

Psomas doubled and scored in the second inning and clubbed a two-out double to score Ambiorix Concepcion in the sixth to give the Suns all the offense they needed as a trio of pitchers short-circuited the Power until the ninth inning.

"I'm just getting good pitches to see and I'm getting good hacks," Psomas said. "I've been trying to see the ball early and get my swing. The ball is just hitting my bat."

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The ball has found Psomas' bat regularly through the first three games. The Mets' 15th pick in the 2004 draft is 6-for-11 (.545) with four RBI thus far, including two doubles and two home runs, which lead the South Atlantic League.

Psomas, who batted eighth in the order in the first two games, was moved up to the fifth slot Saturday because of his hot start while manager Gene Richards gave some of the other Suns their first action of the season.

"(Psomas' move in the batting order) was a combination of both factors," Richards said. "We felt that he has been hitting the ball well. Whatever the reason was, he still hit the ball today. We haven't been hitting the ball well as a team."

The Suns have won all three of their games despite collecting only 22 hits, 27 percent of them by Psomas. Aggressive base running and steady defense have backed three strongly pitched games to lead to the wins.

"We've got a good solid team, but it all starts with pitching," Psomas said. "It takes a lot of pressure off the hitters when the pitching comes in and shuts down the other team."

It was Jeff Landing's turn to carry the Suns' pitching mantle as Hagerstown continues to use two starters per game in an effort to stretch out their endurance while coping with pitch counts.

Landing (1-0), who was coming off an 0-9 season last year, shut out the Power for five innings on one hit and two walks while striking out four. Chuck Smith followed with three innings of one-hit pitching while striking out four before Carlos Muniz came on in the ninth to earn his first save, despite allowing the Power's only run.

The Suns got to West Virginia starter Yovani Gallardo in the second on Psomas' one-out double and scored when right fielder Derran Watts stroked a two-out double in his first at-bat of the season.

Landing retired the last 10 batters he faced before giving way to Smith. Hagerstown added the insurance run in the sixth on Concepcion's single and stolen base before Psomas' double off the left-center field wall against reliever Derek DeCarlo.

The Power, which tried to manufacture runs against the Suns, constructed one in the ninth against Muniz as Hernan Iribarren singled, advanced on a groundout and scored on Grant Richardson's single. Pinch runner Guildero Rodriguez was picked off to end the game.

"All the guys are doing well, getting into situations and capitalizing on it," Richards said. "I'm not stupid. Baseball is a game that things go up and down. We just hope everyone is able to adjust when things aren't going as well."

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