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No place like home for Suns

Four-game losing streak ends in Municipal Stadium debut

Four-game losing streak ends in Municipal Stadium debut

April 11, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

There has been a lot of give to the Hagerstown Suns thus far this season.

But what there hasn't been is any give up.

Once again, the Suns gave an opponent some complimentary late-inning runs to make things interesting. But this time, after all the giving, Hagerstown took time to take.

Hagerstown squandered a 5-2 lead and fell behind, but this time it got the last laugh with three runs in the eighth to pull out an 8-7 victory over the Lakewood BlueClaws to end a season-opening four-game losing streak on Monday before 2,119 fans at the 26th home opener at Municipal Stadium.

"That's the way it's been," Hagerstown manager Frank Cacciatore said. "That's the way we have played in spring training and through the first series. ... We've been aggressive."

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Aggressiveness got the Suns the early lead against the winless BlueClaws (0-5), using timely hitting to go with five stolen bases to create runs. In the end, after falling behind 7-5, it took some late breaks to bring the game home.

Hagerstown (1-4) scored the final three runs on one hit with a combination of strange and unusual plays. Drew Butera started the comeback with a double off the center field wall off Lakewood reliever Matt Overholt, who was lifted after issuing a walk to Matt Anderson.

Ronald Hill (0-1) came on and hit Fernando Martinez with a pitch to load the bases. Jose Castro scored Butera on a fielder's choice grounder to short to cut Hagerstown's deficit to one.

The Suns tied the game when Hill was called for a balk to score pinch runner Jonathan Schemmel from third. They took the lead when third baseman Welinson Baez threw away Jonathan Sanchez's grounder - Lakewood's fifth error - to score Martinez.

"This is the way they have been since this group has been together," Cacciatore said. "They have big hearts and are playing together. There is a lot of character. Each guy has his own and when it comes together in the team, it's something special."

The Suns turned the ball and the game over to German Marte (1-0), Hagerstown's fourth pitcher who had given up the final run in Lakewood's three-run eighth. He slammed the door, despite a two-single by John Hardy, getting the last two outs by strikeouts.

"We had someone come in and do the job," Cacciatore said. "Marte shut the door. We got one guy to do it, but we need more. It has been birth by fire for these guys. Every time they come in, they get their feet put to the brimstone. Still, it's good to have games like these."

It ended a rough late-inning streak for the Suns bullpen, which has a 19.55 ERA in the final three innings of the first five games. It had been victimized by three game-winning home runs, including two walk-offs, in Greensboro - all in games in which the Suns owned the lead through six innings.

The Suns built a 4-0 lead off Lakewood starter Maximo De La Cruz with two runs in each of the second and third innings. Butera had a two-run double in the second and Leivi Ventura and Jonel Pacheco each drove in runs in the third.

Lakewood helped the Suns cause as its five errors provided the Suns with five unearned runs.

The BlueClaws got two runs off Suns starter Sal Aguigar in the fifth, before Anderson scored on a wild pitch in the sixth to give Hagerstown a 5-2 lead.

Lakewood had a chance to blow the game open in the seventh with three doubles and a single off reliever Eric Brown. Shortstop Jose Castro halted the rally by gunning Louis Marson's grounder to third to cut down Baez. Josh Appell came on to strike out Greg Colson to end the rally that moved Lakewood to within 5-4.

"At that point, Castro's play didn't look like much, but it was really heads-up," Cacciatore said. "He got the guy at third and we traded it for a guy at first and it helped minimize the damage. Appell came in and threw a bender off the bat. It's all real good signs. We need that kind of pitching late in the game."

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