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Suns use jump start to jolt Power

April 11, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Ryan Coultas will never be confused with the Dalai Lama, Ghandi or even Phil Jackson.

His methods weren't products of meditation, yoga or even Zen thinking. It was something much simpler.

Coultas brought the stress and pressure of a fourth-inning bases-loaded situation down to the level of returning a movie rental before its deadline. Hagerstown's second baseman won the battle and the war by stroking a clutch, two-run single to ignite a three-run rally Sunday and lift the Suns to a 6-0 win over the West Virginia Power before 3,404 at Municipal Stadium.

"It was just a case that you have to go up there and concentrate and focus more," Coultas said. "You have to realize that when the bases are loaded, it's pitcher is the one that is in trouble."

It's been a situation that the Power has been accustomed to for the entire season-opening weekend of the Suns' 25th anniversary season. The Suns swept West Virginia out of town with four straight wins by a combined score of 20-5, giving Hagerstown sole possession of first place in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division.

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Hagerstown jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second off West Virginia starter Forest Martin with Mike Carp's leadoff home run to left.

The Suns settled in behind the starting pitching of Jose Sanchez (1-0), who threw five innings of one-hit pitching with a walk and four strikeouts. Sanchez combined with Tim Worthington and Kevin Mannix for a three-hit shutout of the Power, who hit .127 in the series against Suns pitching.

Hagerstown batted around in the fourth inning, loading the bases with two outs. That brought Coultas up in the situation that hurt the Suns during their 2-1 win on Saturday. Hagerstown loaded the bases with no outs and a 2-0 lead in the eighth and failed to score a run, giving manger Gene Richards one of the few things to be concerned about this season.

Coultas showed patience to get his count and singled home Grant Psomas and Tyler Davidson.

"It was just a fastball with a 2-0 count," Coultas said. "It was the only pitch I was looking for."

Rafael Arroyo and Wilson Batista drew consecutive walks off reliever Brian Montalbo to bring home Jesus Gamero to give the Suns at 4-0 lead.

"These guys are making adjustments," Richards said. "It's only the fourth day of the season, but hopefully we are seeing positive things. Coultas gave us a good at-bat. This time we executed. If we execute (in bases-loaded situations) at least one-third of the time, I'll be happy."

Ambiorix Conception and Carp led off the fifth with back-to-back doubles off Montalbo to produce a run in the fifth. The Suns closed the scoring with a double by Arroyo and a two-out single by Carlos Gomez in the sixth to complete the six-run cushion.

"Our pitching has been phenomenal," Coultas said. "We are not just throwing guys out there just to throw. It's so easy to stay focused. They aren't walking guys and we are able to play uptempo."

West Virgina's only threat was thwarted in spectacular fashion in the sixth. With runners on first and second and two outs, Hernan Iribarren grounded a single to short center. Concepcion charged the ball and fired home, where Arroyo decoyed base runner William Lewis at the plate by not moving until the ball arrived to make a snap tag for the out.

"(Being 4-0) is a big deal," Richards said. "You want to start out as positively as you can before you make your first road trip. We have (Lakewood) coming in here tomorrow and each new team is a new adventure."

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