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First-half title up for grabs

June 19, 2005

The Hagerstown Suns will be playing short season baseball again today.

Really short. The first half of the season is one game. Today's ... It will be winner take all - or at least half.

Grant Psomas' two-run double highlighted a three-run fifth inning Saturday to lead the Suns to a 6-3 victory over West Virginia. The victory, coupled with Lexington's loss to Lake County, moves Hagerstown into a first-place tie with the Legends for the South Atlantic League North Division title.

It brings the half down to three possible endings:

· If the Suns win and Lexington loses today, Hagerstown is the first-half champions, which it an automatic berth in the SAL playoffs and home-field advantage in the best-of-3 divisional series.

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· If the Suns lose and Lexington wins, the Legends are the champs.

· And if both teams win or lose, the race will finish in a tie that will be decided in a makeshift playoff game. Lexington and Hagerstown would decide the championship in the first game they meet in the second half, which would be Saturday at Municipal Stadium.

The Suns made sure they at least they had a chance in the last half of Saturday's game.

West Virginia scored two unearned runs off Hagerstown starter Mike Devaney to offset Jesus Flores solo home run in the second for a 2-1 lead.

Power starter Mark Rogers controlled the Suns (41-28) on three hits through four innings. It all ended in the fifth, starting when Ryan Coultas was hit by a pitch with one out.

Wilson Batista singled to advance Coultas, who scored to tie the game on Carlos Gomez's single to right. Psomas cashed in for the Suns with two outs by hitting his 21st double of the season to right for the 4-2 lead.

West Virginia closed to within a run by scoring in the seventh off reliever Marcelo Perez on Hernan Irabarren's two-out single.

The Suns countered with two insurance runs in the seventh as Coultas led off with a triple to right, followed by an RBI double by Batista and Dante Brinkley's run-scoring single.

Devaney, starting in place of Matt Durkin, who was skipped in the rotation to allow him to get extra rest for his arm, allowed two unearned runs on five hits and no walks while striking out five to move his record to 4-1.

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