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Slips steer Captains

June 11, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

On Thursday, Hagerstown manager Gene Richards was happy the Suns found the forest.

On Friday, he was upset because they fell out of their "tree."

After playing a fundamentally sound game but losing the night before, the Suns resorted back to a habit of making errors and issuing walks which led to a damaging 4-3 loss to Lake County before 3,403 fans at Municipal Stadium.

"It was the same old bugaboo .... same old bugaboo," Richards said. "What do you do? After what we showed early in the season, it all seems like it's coming back on us and we are coming down out of our tree."

And that isn't going out on the limb. The loss dropped the Suns (37-25) out of a first-place tie with Lexington in the chase for the South Atlantic League North Division's first-half title. Hagerstown fell out of the top slot for only the third day all season and into second place behind Lexington, which defeated West Virginia on Friday.

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Lake County is in third, one game behind the Suns. Hagerstown heads to Lexington for a four-game series, starting today.

The root of all Hagerstown's problems cropped up in the seventh inning with a 3-2 lead. Reliever Matt Miramontes lost his touch one out into his second inning of work and suddenly went wild.

Miramontes (3-1) walked Josh Novinsky and moved him to third on two consecutive wild pitches. After the second, he walked off the mound to the Suns' dugout, looking for medical attention from trainer Matt Hunter.

"He cut his finger somehow and they put something on it," Richards said. "I don't know if it bothered him, but he stopped throwing strikes. It's been that way the last couple of times out. I don't know what it is ... a lack of focus and concentration."

Miramontes returned to the mound to finish walking Marshall Szabo right before Juan Valdes laced a two-run triple down the right-field line to produce the tying and go-ahead runs.

The Captains got their second run in the fourth inning when Brian Barton singled, stole second and moved to third on starter Michael Devaney's wild pitch before scoring on a fielding error by second baseman Ryan Coultas.

"I just want them to play fundamental baseball," Richards said. "They aren't anticipating plays and they aren't sticking with the fundamentals. We just aren't playing as well as we have been. It might be that they are scared to fail, but if that's the case, they aren't going to make it to the major leagues."

Lake County jumped out to a 1-0 lead as Argenis Reyes led off his fourth consecutive game in the series with a hit, this one a double to right, and scored on Mike Butia's single.

Hagerstown took a 2-1 lead in the third as Wilson Batista led off with a double, Jesus Flores was hit by a pitch and Coultas reached on a bunt single to load the bases against Lake County starter Reid Santos, before Carlos Gomez laced a two-run single to center.

The Suns took a 3-2 lead in the sixth when Derran Watts doubled and scored on Flores' single that took a wicked hop off of Reyes at third.

Flores finished with three hits, while Coultas and Watts added two each. Dante Brinkley returned to the lineup after missing 10 games with a sprained ankle and went 1-for-4 with a walk.

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