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Suns win on Coultas' RBI double in ninth

June 09, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

Coultas connected and cleaned up in Aisle 5 - in the left-center- field gap - with a one-out double to chase Jim Burt home from first for a dramatic 6-5 victory over Lake County in a game filled with twists, turns and title-chase implications.

The lead traded hands four times in the last four innings before Coultas put an end to it all with the clutch hit - his third of the game.

The win kept Hagerstown (37-23) firmly implanted in first place in the South Atlantic League's North Division, one game ahead of Lexington (a 9-7 winner over West Virginia) and now three games ahead of third-place Lake County with 10 games remaining.

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"I thought we were giving it away," Suns manager Gene Richards said. "'We allowed them to tie it up. And after the way things went last night, we were just scrapping by. That team next door is very good and I'm not trying to take anything away from them, but a lot of our problems are self-inflicted."

Six walks and a crucial throwing error by second baseman Wilson Batista in the seventh inning allowed the Captains to come back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game at 3-3 and take a 4-3 lead and retie the game at 5-5 through eight innings. It was starting to look like another self-destructing effort for the Suns, especially after Tuesday's 12-2 shellacking.

Burt started the winning rally in the ninth off Lake County reliever Kyle Collins (2-4) by beating out a cue-shot infield single that squirmed to third base. Coultas followed with the shot to the left-center field wall. Burt was running all the way and beat the relay to the plate for the winning run.

"Gene tells us to be aggressive in hitting situations," Coultas said. "I was looking for the first good fastball to hit because I didn't want to get behind. It was kind of exciting. Burt and I helped the team a lot. We often win because of big games by (Dante) Brinkley and (Derran) Watts. Some of us don't usually get in that spot."

Burt and Coultas helped the Suns grab a 5-4 lead in the seventh on back-to-back home runs to left. Burt's was a bomb to left while Coultas' appeared to hit short of the fence, hop over to hit the back wall and jump back into the field of play.

"I don't know if anybody knew if that was a home run," Coultas said. "It was a pleasant surprise to see the ump swinging his finger around in the air."

The Suns took a 2-0 lead in the first of Lake County starter Cody Bunkelman on a leadoff home by Corey Coles and an RBI single by Mike Carp to support Mike Durkin. Durkin harnessed the Captains for five innings on four hits, but left in the fifth after walking the bases loaded.

Marcelo Perez came on to deliver a two-run double to Chris Gimenez and a run-scoring wild pitch to tie the game. Lake County took a 4-3 lead in the seventh on Batista's error and tied the game at 5-5 in the eighth on Argenis Reyes' RBI single before Carlos Muniz (3-2) came on to get a bases-loaded double play to end the threat.

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