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Suns notes - Suns try amazing feats by using fleet of feet

April 24, 2005|BY BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns will take their chances when taking their chances.

The Suns are taking kind of a Wheel of Fortune mentality when it comes to two of baseball's major situations - stealing bases and batting with the bases loaded.

In each case, teams win or lose games depending on each specialty. Execution is the key.

The Suns have tried to make a reputation out of running and stealing bases. In each case, technique is more important than one might think.

"Base stealing is a different animal," Suns manager Gene Richards said. "It is an art. We have been very aggressive and I have been letting them run to keep them that way."

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The Suns came out running on April 7 in the home opener with five steal attempts in the first two innings and have been threats on the basepaths ever since. Hagerstown has 27 steals in 42 attempts (64.3 percent), but the Suns have benefited more from the threat of movement than the movement itself.

"I'm going to give them every chance to run. That was the type of player I was when I played," Richards said.

Hagerstown's running game sets a fevered pace to games, almost making it uncomfortable for the opposing teams. West Virginia and Lakewood had problems matching the tempo the Suns set, which seems to quicken when the Suns are in the lead.

About the only fault Richards found in the Suns' running attack has come on the ethical side of the game.

"What we are doing wrong is when we are running," Richards said. "Sometimes we have been running in situations when we shouldn't but that's the aggressiveness I want. We also have run in situations when we shouldn't. We had a six-run lead (on April 10) and we ran. There is a certain part of baseball etiquette. This is a young team and they don't know that. I hope the next time out they will show some knowledge."

Batting with the bases loaded is also an acquired taste.

Hagerstown failed to score in its first attempt with the bags full with none out on April 9. It caught Ricards' attention, but didn't overly concern him.

"We didn't have good at-bats in that situation," Ricards said. "Hopefully, they will learn from it and do better the next time. The goal is execution. There is no team that will succeed 100 percent of the time in baseball. But if they can do it once every three times, that would be .333 and I'll take that."

Part of the improvement comes from assessing the situation at hand.

"You just have to kind of concentrate more," said Suns infielder Ryan Coultas, who had a two-run single in the three-run fourth against West Virginia. "You have to realize that the pressure isn't on you, it's on the pitcher. The pitcher is the one in trouble."

Suns spots


The Suns have been the most dangerous when their backs have been against the wall. Hagerstown has scored 39 of the 76 runs this season with two outs. Twelve players have cashed in in the clutch situations, led by Mike Carp, Grant Psomas, Derran Watts and Dante Brinkley with five RBI each.

The Suns are only 3-for-11 with the bases loaded, but have driven in 10 runs in the prime situation. Carp has four of those RBI, thanks to his April 11 grand slam against Lakewood. Brinkley and Coultas share the other two hits, good for two RBI each.

Suns pitchers have held their own in the pressure situations. They have allowed only one hit with the bases loaded (.125), while opponents have hit just .202 with runners in scoring position.

Talk about taking advantage of opportunities. Watts is considered a utility outfielder, but has 14 hits in 25 at-bats (.560) with six RBI in seven games.




Milestones


Before Friday's rainout, Brinkley and Psomas were the top two hitters in the South Atlantic League. Brinkley led the league with a .459 average while Psomas checked in at .373.

Others on the leaderboard: Carp is second with five home runs, Carlos Gomez is tied for third with nine stolen bases, Psomas is fifth with 19 hits and leads with nine extra-base hits and Brinkley leads with a .583 on-base percentage.




The week ahead


The Suns finish their four-game set with Delmarva on Monday before making a four-game swing to face the Lake County Captains (Indians). Hagerstown returns home on Saturday to open a four-game homestand against Kannapolis (White Sox). The Suns will give away memo pads on Saturday and Sunday. They will also host the National Egg Toss Championships.

Bob Parasiliti covers the Hagerstown Suns for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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