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Hawks draw on lessons learned in exhibition loss

April 23, 2005|by Tim KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

In most cases, getting pounded 15-1 in a baseball game will not do a whole lot of good for the psyche of the losing team.

Hagerstown Community College didn't suffer through battered egos following its April 5 exhibition loss to the Hagerstown Suns. Instead, the Hawks learned some lessons that would provide invaluable experience down the road.

It took the Hawks a few games to "reassemble" themselves and bring their experience to the forefront. Immediately after their test against the pros, HCC went out and lost four straight, but since have begun to reap the fruits of their labor, winning nine of 11 through Thursday's victory over Montgomery-Germantown.

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"I took the game as a fun exhibition for us," said Hawks coach Scott Jennings. "It was going to be an opportunity for everyone to pitch and play in the field.

"I didn't know at the time if it would benefit us," he said. "The kids got a chance to see what talent the level was and that was a good thing."

Even Hawks infielder Drew Counselman was amazed at the talent level, having been surprised that Suns slugger Mike Carp was a ninth-round draftee - straight out of high school.

North Hagerstown graduate Kyle Robinson summarized the benefit as working toward the Hawks gaining team chemistry.

"To see how the pro level is and to go against pro pitching ... that was great," Robinson said. "I went into the game to see if I could handle their pitching and play defense. I came out of it knowing that pitchers have to hit their spots, keep the ball down and that they are so much better than college players.

"The (Suns) players took time to talk to us about pitching, hitting and fielding. I think I've got more energy for the game."

South Hagerstown graduate Jeremy McAfee pitched an inning he won't forget in the exhibition, striking out the side. And even though he's had some shoulder miseries since then, he said there are many important afterthoughts.

"I think the game put us together as a team," he said. "(The Suns) are off to a good start and you realize how good of a team we played against. I know that for myself, it has made me try harder."

Williamsport graduate Andy Taylor said he's had "adrenalin from the game."

"We didn't know they would be as a good as they are," he said. "Playing them has helped us try to play to their level. As a pitcher, it showed me really how important it is to have control and to hit the spots, or otherwise you are going to get ripped."

Boonsboro graduate Marty Kaetzel was "excited to be on the field, but not surprised at the Suns' talent."

"Playing that game makes you think of what you need to do to get better and to get to the next level," Kaetzel said. "It showed me that you have to practice hard and conduct yourself on and off the field."

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