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It was lots of Suns & some fun for HCC

April 05, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Even when it's all fun and games, it isn't always fun and games.

And it's a lot easier to focus on the big picture when focusing on little snapshots.

It sounds like fortune cookie logic, but it was the best way to sum up the overall experience for the Hagerstown Community College baseball team in its midseason dream benefit exhibition game and 15-1 loss with the Hagerstown Suns on Tuesday at Municipal Stadium.

"We knew coming in we didn't have a shot," said HCC designated hitter Matt Ridenour. "We wanted to come in here and have some fun. Some innings we did and some innings we didn't."

It was an all-around learning experience for the Hawks and the Suns. For HCC, it was a chance to face professional baseball players for one night. For the Suns, it was a first chance to play in their home stadium, with its chilly weather and dusky conditions.

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But when all was said and done, it was a 15-1 final - the exact same score that was posted in last year's inaugural game.

"It was like professional wrestling," said HCC coach Scott Jennings with a smirk after commenting on following a script. "We just had two bad innings, otherwise we held them to one run in each inning except for the last two when they didn't get any. Allowing one run an inning, we can live with that ... but those two innings ..."

HCC came off the top rope and got caught in a suplex as the Suns left little doubt about the outcome of the game, scoring in each of the first seven innings. The two innings that hurt HCC the most, though, were a five-run third and a six-run sixth.

"It was real good for us," said Hagerstown manager Frank Caccitore. "Our pitchers got their innings in and guys got in and got hits while we were able to get to play under the lights and in the dusk. This was a nice opportunity for us."

It was the Suns' first action in Hagerstown. They arrived in town on Monday, but didn't practice.

The game was played in all-star fashion with each team using eight pitchers and liberally shuffling players into the lineup.

For players like Murray, a North Hagerstown grad, it was a chance to work on his game while competing against those at the next level of play.

"It felt good," said Murray, who had two of HCC's four hits. "I had been in a slump and it just showed me that I could hit against these guys if I just relaxed and had fun. We have to go out with a positive note. We haven't been playing to our potential. We have to take what we got from here and go out and use it when we play again on Thursday."

HCC's only run came in the fifth when Ridenour led off with a single and eventually scored when Kyle Robinson hit into a bases-loaded double play.

"Offensively, we were overmatched because we were using wooden bats," Jennings said. "We wanted the guys to get this experience. We made some nice plays to stay in the game - (shortstop Drew) Counselman played really well defensively. It was those two ugly innings."

The Suns spread the offense around with 13 hits, including solo home runs by Matt Anderson in the second and Nick Evans in the fourth. Center field phenom Fernando Martinez, third baseman Leivi Ventura, catcher Rafael Arroyo and Evans had two hits each.

"The big thing for us is that we got a lot of two-out runs," Caccitore said. "Each of our runs in the first two innings came with two outs. Those are big and we have had an ability to hang a crooked number on the scoreboard and keep attacking all spring."

Despite it all, though, the score and the game didn't count for anything but goodwill. HCC heads back to Maryland JuCo play and the Suns open the South Atlantic League season on Thursday in Greensboro (N.C.). But it served its purpose.

"This game opens some eyes," Caccitore said. "We have a center fielder who would be a junior in high school and a few players at the same age who could be playing at HCC. We got our work in and it was fun for us. We hope it was a good one for Scott."

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