Power pull the plug on Suns' home perfection

April 20, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

All good things come to an end, and Hagerstown's perfect home record met its end in a 5-4 afternoon loss to West Virginia on Wednesday.

The Suns (6-7) tried to duplicate Tuesday's ninth-inning rally that produced a 4-3 win, getting a run in the eighth inning and three in the ninth before the well went dry as Hagerstown lost for the first time at Municipal Stadium after four victories.

"You hope to work off the momentum from a win like (Tuesday's), and we came ready to play," said Suns manager Frank Cacciatore.

However, Power (6-7) starting pitcher Rafael Lluberes threw four scoreless innings, allowing two hits, and Will Inman followed with three innings of two-hit work to put the Suns on skid row.


"That starting pitcher was tough for four innings and got ahead in the counts on us," said Cacciatore. "Inman came in and picked right up. We got them to their max in pitch counts but they were tough."

Down 5-1 and about to go against new reliever Steve Palazzolo, an intimidating presence at 6-foot-10, the Suns got on the board when Leivi Ventura roped a two-out single to right, his third hit. Nick Evans then scorched a double off the wall in center to score Ventura.

In the ninth, catcher Rafael Arroyo homered to right-center field for his first four-bagger of the year. Matt Anderson worked a pinch-hit, two-out walk before Elvis Cruz hammered an opposite-field homer to right to get the Suns within one at 5-4 before Palazzolo retired Hector Pellot.

"That's been kind of typical of this club right now," said Cacciatore of the comeback.

Right-hander Jeff Landing (0-2) worked into the sixth inning for the Suns, allowing only a huge blast on a windy day by Power catcher Brad Willcutt that carried to the roof of the pavilion beyond left field. Willcutt caught the perfect moment with the wind abated, but Cacciatore said it was a shot "no ballpark would hold."

"It's a big field out there and I got a fastball up on the inner half," said Willcutt, who walked in each of his next three at-bats. "I didn't get a lot of pitches to see, and I've been seeing the ball pretty well lately."

Landing started the sixth inning by allowing a hit, then retired the next two West Virginia batters before issuing a walk to Ken Holmberg.

At that point, Cacciatore had portside reliever Josh Appell warming in the pen, and the manager made a visit to the mound with Power lefty Matt Yoho coming to the plate.

Cacciatore stayed with Landing, who quickly worked Yoho to an 0-2 count before Yoho took Landing out of the park - and the game - with a three-run shot to right.

"(Landing) pitched well, except for the walks," said Cacciatore. "Shawn (pitching coach Shawn Barton) and I talked about his pitch count. You've got to learn to work out of a jam and we thought he had some bullets left."

"He had a pitch get away from him, Cacciatore said. The high ones will hurt."

"I tried to work (Yoho) on and off the plate but that last one stayed up," said Landing.

With the Suns rallying late, what turned out to be West Virginia's most-needed run came in the eighth off Brandon Nall when Holmberg received his third walk and came around to score on a double to left by Yoho, who finished with four RBI.

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