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Suns spoil sendoff for Hernandez

July 09, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Gabriel Hernandez left the Municipal Stadium field like he has so many times before.

The Hagerstown Suns workhorse right-hander was lifted from Friday's game after another strong performance in which he allowed one run or less, had the lead and ended with a no-decision.

And this time when Hernandez left, he just kept going.

Hernandez became another footnote in his final start for the Suns, as the bullpen coughed up a three-run double to Nester Corredor in the seventh inning to allow the West Virginia Power to gain a 4-3 victory. After the game, Hernandez and closer Carlos Muniz were promoted to St. Lucie in the Florida State League.

The sendoff was nothing out of the ordinary for Hernandez, who threw the second no-hitter in Suns history on June 19. It was the sixth time Hagerstown lost a game he had left while leading.

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"A lot of times, it's not the culmination of innings that get you," Suns manager Gene Richards said. "One inning has been the big bugaboo. I hate to say it, but I guess that's low-A baseball."

Hernandez left with a 2-0 lead after pitching five innings in which he allowed just two first-inning singles and walked one while striking out four.

Newly acquired Joseph Serfass got the Suns through the sixth with relative ease before disaster hit again.

Matt Miramontes (3-2) was greeted by Ryan Braun's double to lead off the seventh before hitting Grant Richardson with a pitch. It was the 18th batter Miramontes has hit in his last 13 appearances.

After William Lewis' sacrifice bunt attempt was turned into a force play at third, Hassan Rasheed walked to load the bases and send Miramontes to the bench.

The Suns turned to Marcelo Perez, who struck out Josh Brady for the second out to put the Suns on the doorstep of an escape. But Corredor just missed a grand slam as his drive took left fielder Corey Coles off the fence for the bases-clearing double and a 3-2 lead.

"We just kill ourselves," Richards said. "We work hard and get them to the point where they don't execute on a play and then we turn around and execute for them. We gave them the three base runners and they got the one hit."

Richardson hit a home run to right off Perez in the eighth to give the Power a 4-2 lead.

The Suns had a chance to break back in the bottom of the inning as Ambiorix Concepcion ripped an RBI single to left off reliever Steve Hammond to score Carlos Gomez and cut the deficit to 4-3. Ben Stanczyk came on and shut down the Suns with the bases loaded, forcing Tony Piazza to fly out.

The loss was Hagerstown's eighth in the last 10 games as the Suns (46-39) fell to 4-11 and further into last place in the South Atlantic League's North Division second half.

Hagerstown posted Hernandez to a 1-0 lead in the second as Mike Carp led off with a double to center off Power starter Eric Thomas, who was making his first start. Concepcion sacrificed Carp to third before Derran Watts hit a 150-foot double down the right-field line to drive in the run.

The Suns upped the lead to 2-0 in the fourth when Grant Psomas and Carp greeted West Virginia reliever Derek DeCarlo with back-to-back singles. Ryan Coultas drove in the run with a one-out single.

But from there, it became a struggle for the Suns after Hernandez, the 19-year-old who was the third selection for the New York Mets in the 2004 amateur draft, left.

"We've been struggling with our pitching and a couple of other things," Richards said. "But the pitching ... they walked a couple of guys and they came in to score with the one hit. As the game went on, you could see something wasn't right. We were getting hits, but not doing anything with them. We have to find a way to pick up our game."

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