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Triplett's role a winning one

July 15, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Like any good actor, Russ Triplett got into character.

While wearing a throwback uniform, Hagerstown's second baseman made a throwback play to lead the Suns to a throwback victory.

Triplett got his vintage South Atlantic League jersey dirty on a wild pitch with a head-first slide into home, circa Pete Rose with a Ty Cobb edge, to score the winning run with two outs in the eighth in a 2-1 decision over Lake County on Thursday night.

"I told the guys after the game that we were wearing throwback uniforms, and we played this game like I did when I played," Suns manager Gene Richards said. "We did all the little, small things it took to win."

Both teams wore assorted uniforms in honor of various teams from throughout the South Atlantic League and old-era Hagerstown history for the game. It turned into a vintage game of few hits and strategic moves.

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The boldest came from Triplett, who was responsible for the Suns' winning run for the third straight game.

Triplett opened the eighth by drawing a walk - his third free pass of the game - off Lake County pitcher T.J. Burton. He advanced to second on Corey Coles' hit-and-run grounder and took third on Carlos Gomez's grounder to the pitcher.

With two strikes and two outs, Burton bounced a breaking ball in the dirt to Grant Psomas. The wild pitch bounced off catcher Wyatt Toregas and rolled 15 feet to the right of the plate.

Triplett took a stutter step and broke for the plate. Toregas, who lost sight of the ball, pounced, turned and threw to a late-breaking Burton at the plate. Triplett's dive beat Burton's tag.

"I was just trying to read the ball when it hit the dirt," Triplett said. "With two outs and two strikes, you are trying to score any way you can. I felt good when I got the jump. I don't think the pitcher thought I would go. I thought I had it when he hesitated."

The victory was one that didn't throw too far back for the Suns. It was vintage May 2005, when Hagerstown (8-12 second half, 50-40 overall) was building its lead to win the SAL North Division first-half title.

"I wanted him to go," Richards said. "Grant wasn't swinging the bat too well tonight and I thought they might throw him a breaking ball. I was glad (Triplett) went, even if he would have been out at the plate, at least he was aggressive. You are in there battling, you have to take a chance."

Lake County took a 1-0 lead in the third off Hagerstown's Blake Eager, making his first start since May when he suffered a back injury. Juan Valdes led off with a double and eventually scored on Matt Whitney's single.

The Suns tied the game in the fifth with a clutch at-bat by Coles. The left fielder fouled off six pitches from starter Cody Bunkelman before hitting an RBI single in a game in which both teams finished with three hits.

Bo Bowman (2-2) got the win with 1 2/3 innings of relief, with Marcelo Perez coming on to get Fernando Pacheco to pop out to finish the game for his eighth save.

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