Suns win one that should have got away

August 23, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

According to The American Century Dictionary, there are only 10 words separating desperate from destiny.

But the Hagerstown Suns proved it is the difference of one swing of the bat.

The Suns gave one of the poorest displays of baseball through the first six innings Monday. They were down. They were out. They were beaten, battered and bruised.

It all changed in the seventh inning as a two-out, bad-hop single brought Jesus Flores to the plate to hit a game-tying three-run home run to resuscitate the Suns in time to take a 5-4 victory over the Asheville Tourists before 1,390 fans at Municipal Stadium.

"Hey, we won," Suns manager Gene Richards said. "We have to be happy. The kids did some good things ..."

For about the last nine outs of the game, when lean times turned into the best of times. As for Asheville, the Tourists couldn't touch a finish on a victory.


So, it was hammer time in the most unlikely of losses. Consider:

  • There were nine errors in the game, five committed by the Suns, leading to two unearned runs.

  • Hagerstown batters struck out for 16 of the 21 outs in the game. Asheville starter Frank Morales, a left-hander, collected nine of them in five innings work.

  • The Suns had two players - Carlos Gomez and his replacement, Armand Gaerlan - injure themselves while at bat, forcing a defensive realignment which resembled a confetti throw. In fact, Hagerstown played without Joe Mihalics, who injured a finger in Sunday's victory. Yury Santana was Fed-Exed from Brooklyn to play third for the game.

Yet, in it all, the Suns managed to become Exhibit A to the old coaching adage, "You are never out of a game."

"We don't have any players left, but we are ready to win," Suns infielder Matt Fisher yelled while entering the clubhouse.

Asheville notched three runs, two of which were unearned, in four innings off struggling Suns starter Kevin Mannix. Hagerstown committed three miscues behind him to donate single runs in the third and fourth innings after allowing one in the first.

Hagerstown managed a 1-1 tie after one inning against Morales before the wheels started to fall off.

Gomez led off with a bunt single, stole second and went to third on catcher Nelson Robledo's throwing error and scored on a passed ball. Gomez left the game with a 1-2 count in the third with an undisclosed hand injury.

Asheville turned to the bullpen after Morales' five innings, which eventually gave new life to the Suns.

"The thing that happened was (Morales) had his pitch count up and they took him out," Richards said. "While he was in there, we had no chance."

Ashville's third pitcher, Jason DiAngelo, struck out the first two Suns he faced before walking Ambiorix Concepcion. Jim Burt kept the inning alive with a ground ball that hopped over the head of second baseman Jose Valdez. It brought up Flores, who blasted his three-run shot over the center-field wall to tie the game at 4-4.

Jose Gomez gave the Suns three strong innings before being lifted after Trevor Allen's leadoff single in the eighth. Edgar Alfonso came on and put the Suns in position to win.

Fiorentino Nunez greeted Alfonso with a sacrifice bunt attempt, but pushed it back to the mound. Alfonso gunned down Allen at second to keep Asheville out of scoring position and the Suns out of harm's way with a harmless inning.

"I knew it was coming," Alfonso said. "It came right to me and I went right away to second base. If it didn't, I would have went to first. The main thing was getting an out. I came in and did my job but so did the rest of my teammates."

The Suns picked up the unlikely game-winning run in the eighth as Santana reached on an error by shortstop Chris Nelson off Adam Bright. He took third on Matt Bacon's single and scored on a wild pitch. Bacon replaced Gaerlan after he fouled a ball off his shin in the seventh.

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