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Carp overpowers Power

June 18, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Mike Carp got two RBI and 375-feet worth of respect with one swing of the bat Friday.

The only thing that mattered, though, was the instant gratification that came with his 16th home run of the season.

"Anytime you get runs on the scoreboard, it's big," the Hagerstown Suns first baseman said.

There were none bigger for the Suns. Carp's two-run shot in the fourth inning gave Hagerstown just enough offense to hang a 3-2 victory over West Virginia, while keeping its ever-shrinking title hopes alive.

Carp took second place in the South Atlantic League's home run chase by launching a mortar shot over the right-center-field wall off West Virginia starter Josh Baker to break a 1-1 tie.

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It was the finishing touch on a must-win situation which only got tighter. Hagerstown remained one game behind Lexington in the South Atlantic League Northern Division's first-half title chase with two games remaining. Lexington, which defeated Lake County 3-2 on Friday, has a magic number of one to clinch the title.

Bottom line: The Suns must win their last two games and Lexington must lose for Hagerstown to have any chance for the title.

On Friday, though, the Suns (40-28) did what they needed to do by defeating the Power.

Besides the homers by Carp and Carlos Gomez, Hagerstown got flawless pitching, led by starter Jose Sanchez, without allowing a walk and only committed one error. It was a sharp contrast to Thursday's game when Hagerstown allowed seven walks and committed four errors in a 10-3 loss.

"It was a solid game all over," said Suns hitting coach Luis Natera, who was in his second night of replacing manager Gene Richards. "We didn't have errors or the walks. We didn't have many hits either, but we put them together. We played solid. It was different today."

Sanchez did what he does best - come up with wins when the Suns need them the most. Sanchez (10-2) became the SAL's first 10-game winner by allowing two runs on nine hits. Bo Bowman followed suit with two shutout innings before Carlos Muniz came on to record his 13th save.

"Sanchez is the ace of our staff," Natera said. "He has had a couple of tough outings the last couple of times out, but he had a good outing today and it was good for the club."

West Virginia took the early lead in the third as Nestor Corredor doubled and scored on Hernan Irabarren's first of three singles. Hagerstown evened the score in the bottom of the inning with Gomez's two-out blast over the center field wall.

Grant Psomas led off the fourth with a single and scored on Carp's home run for the 3-1 lead.

Carp came up again in the sixth with one out and a runner on second, but West Virginia elected to intentionally walk him to get to Ambiorix Concepcion.

"The home run was more important than getting (the respect with) the walk," Carp said. "Like I said before, anytime you put runs on the board, that' s big."

West Virginia played the percentages and came away without allowing an insurance run.

"Sometimes a manager will choose to walk certain hitters to get better matchups," Natera said. "Carp was a left-handed hitter with a right-handed pitcher and they probably liked the matchup better with Ambiorix. Carp is a young kid and you don't know what you are going to get from night to night. He could go 3-for-4 one night and 0-for-4 with strikeouts the next. He's learning."

West Virginia moved to within a run in the sixth when Carlos Corporan led off with a double off Sanchez, moved to third on Tony Festa's grounder before scoring on Josh Brady's infield single. The Power mounted two threats in the final three innings but failed to convert.

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