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Suns cook BlueClaws on Coles

April 13, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Suns wouldn't be the Boys of Summer if they didn't know you need a Coles to start a fire.

The Suns and their season-opening five-game win streak looked all but burned out Tuesday until two utility outfielders provided some needed spark.

Corey Coles took advantage of a rare start with three hits and a dramatic circus catch before scoring the winning run on Darren Watts' clutch two-out single in the ninth to lift Hagerstown to a come-from-behind 7-6 victory over the Lakewood BlueClaws.

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The Suns trailed 4-0 after one inning and battled back with the help of Coles' three-run home run in the fifth followed by the big catch and a leadoff double in the ninth as Hagerstown won its sixth game, this time in comeback fashion.

Meanwhile, Watts - also making a rare start - added another three hits in the Suns' 16-hit attack, including the game-winning single to left on a 2-2 pitch by Lakewood closer Corey Dueitt.

"We found a new way to win tonight," Suns manager Gene Richards said. "That's six wins and six ways. Coles was big in putting us back in the game. He was our MVP tonight with great offense and defense and that catch was the highlight of the game. And Watts, he had three hits. They both came through for us in stressful situations."

The emotional turning point came in the top of the ninth in a 6-6 tie with Lakewood's Bradley Harman on second. Jayson Drobiak lofted a foul down the left-field line. Coles gave chase and at the last second, lunged and caught the ball while cartwheeling across the warning track to strand Harman at second. Carlos Muniz (1-0) struck out Jason Jaramillo to end the threat.

"The guy popped the ball up and I just put my head down and started running," Coles said. "I got closer than I thought I would and went for it. The big part was making sure the runner didn't advance."

Not only did Harman stay put, but it took the bat out of the hands of Lakewood's cleanup hitter and put the BlueClaws in a position where they needed a hit to score. It was even more important for the Suns.

"The biggest thing was that catch got our players up," Richards said. "They were up yelling because he gave them something they haven't seen."

Coles doubled to start the ninth and moved to third on Ambiorix Concepcion's groundout. After Mike Carp was walked intentionally and Grant Psomas struck out, Watts was put in the hit-or-nothing situation.

He worked the count to 2-2 before lining the winning single to left.

"I was just looking for something to drive," Watts said. "We have a lot of outfielders here and we all need playing time, you just have to take advantage of the time you are in. Coles was clutch. He came out of nowhere to make that catch and we all got jazzed up."

Lakewood jumped out to a 4-0 lead off starter Gabriel Hernandez in the first, using two walks with Drobiak's triple, Sam Orr's two-run double and an RBI double by Ryan Frith.

The Suns scored in the second on Carp's leadoff home run but the BlueClaws scored in unearned run in the fourth.

Coles' homer brought the Suns within 5-4 and the Suns tied the game in the eighth on Ryan Coultas' RBI double, who scored when Wilson Bautista was safe on a two-out throwing error.

Mike Devaney pitched four innings of five-hit relief, allowing one run while striking out three, to keep the Suns in the game.

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