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Another close encounter

April 24, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

If you're a fan of one-run baseball games, chances are pretty good tonight's game between Hagerstown and Lake County could end up that way.

Sunday's game at Municipal Stadium was the eighth home contest of the young season for Hagerstown and, to continue following the one-run script, the Suns came out on the short end of a 6-5 decision to Lake County.

The Suns have won five of the eight close encounters and will try tonight to stop the outcome from being one of the third kind, having lost the first two games of the four-game set to the Captains by - you guessed it - one run.

"I'm not surprised by the amount of one-run games," said Suns manager Frank Cacciatore. "It's all part of the game. There's parity in the league."

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All of the runs were scored in three innings as Hagerstown (7-9) and Lake County (10-7) each scored in the same frames, the final tallies coming in the bottom of the seventh when the Suns tried to overcome a 6-2 deficit and set themselves up for another potential ninth-inning rally.

Against Lake County relief pitcher Matt Loberg, Hector Pellot walked to open the seventh inning and Matt Anderson followed with a single, sending Pellot to third.

The Suns sliced the deficit to 6-3 when Elvis (is in the house) Cruz drove in Pellot on a bad-hop single to third that had double play written around the seams of the ball. Rafael Arroyo then drilled a double to the wall in left-center to score Anderson and Pellot, still with none out.

After Loberg induced Fernando Martinez to fly to center, the Suns tried to small-ball the Captains. Jose Castro pushed a bunt up the first-base line just a bit too hard to beat out as Arroyo moved to third. Then, Jonathan Sanchez put down a nifty bunt which took a brilliant effort by Lake County third baseman Nick Petrucci to thwart the Suns.

"The bunts were on by me," said Cacciatore. "The first was a little too hard and the second was a great bunt and it took a great play. In that situation you're trying to put the pressure on their defense."

Lake County jumped to a 3-0 lead in the second inning against lanky right-hander Ryan Meyers, holder of an 11.57 earned run average.

Meyers got into trouble with a pair of walks and then grooved a pitch to Lake County's Josh Noviskey, who made his 2006 debut in grand style with a three-run blast.

The Suns answered with a solo run in the second on Leivi Ventura's second homer of the year and each team put a single run on the board in the third inning. Lake County used a triple by Jose Constanza and single by Marshall Szabo and the Suns answered on a walk to Arroyo and singles by Martinez and Castro.

Meyers went four innings and reliever Brandon Nall went to the seventh before allowing two runs.

"(Meyers) was a lot more aggressive today and pitched in the zone," said Cacciatore. "He got behind on a couple of counts and then had to challenge the batter, but he hadn't been doing that and I'd rather see that out of him."

Arroya and Ventura each had two hits for the Suns, still batting only .233 as a team.

"There is character in this group," said Cacciatore. "They're not a happy group losing by one run, but we'll see how they come back and handle the situation."

Note: Hagerstown native P.J. Hiser was placed on the five-day disabled list by the Captains as he nurses a sore right shoulder. He spent time during Sunday's game sharing coaching duties at first base.

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