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Power surge short-circuits Hagerstown

June 17, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Municipal Stadium went to the dogs on Thursday.

The Hagerstown Suns' first-half fortunes seemed to follow.

Sky Dogs USA caught Frisbees and did backflips to delight the 2,847 fans. The Suns seemed to roll over and play dead.

Hagerstown's bark was worse than its bite as walks and errors put the Suns in the pound in a 10-3 loss to West Virginia, crippling all hopes to win the South Atlantic League North Division's first-half title.

The Suns committed four errors, allowed six walks and hit one batter - with six of them coming around to score.

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"It was tough today," said Suns hitting coach Luis Natera, who is filling in for manager Gene Richards this weekend as he attends the college graduation of his daughter. "The pitching and the defense had a tough day. We got 11 hits, but we never got any when we needed them."

The Suns will need them more than ever now.

Hagerstown (39-28) remains one game behind Lexington while falling into a second-place tie with Lake County. The Captains defeated the Legends 12-5 to tighten the race with three games remaining.

West Virginia curbed the Suns by scoring in seven of the nine innings, including each of the last five. The Power were empowered by Hagerstown's generosity.

Alcides Escobar led off with a walk and Hernan Irabarren tripled off Jeff Landing (5-5) to take a 1-0 lead in the first. The Suns countered with Carlos Gomez's leadoff triple off West Virginia starter Josh Wahpepah (4-3) before scoring on Dante Brinkley's grounder to tie the game.

From there, it was all West Virginia.

"From the beginning, Landing didn't have it today, but we gave him time hoping he would come around," Natera said. "They were getting hits and scoring runs and we couldn't respond."

Ryan Coultas committed three errors, leading to two runs in each the third and eighth and a single run in the fifth. West Virginia's William Lewis drove in the runs in the third and eighth for four RBI in the game.

Landing was lifted two batters into the sixth inning after allowing six runs (four earned) on seven hits and three walks.

The Suns showed a glimmer of life in the sixth by scoring two runs on consecutive singles by Mike Carp, Grant Psomas and Ambiorix Concepcion and a wild pitch to get within 6-3.

The Power continued to prosper as Rafael Cova came on to allow three runs on five hits in three innings and Matt Miramontes was tagged with a run in the ninth.

It all made the chase for the first-half title and the berth for the postseason playoffs easy. The Suns must win the next three games to have any chance.

"It was just one of those games," Natera said. "At this level, there is going to be games like this. We had an off day yesterday and we might have lost a little focus. Sometimes the kids just have to come to the park every day to stay focused."

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