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Business as usual

April 26, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

When it came down to it, Nick Evans stuck with the routine.

The Hagerstown Suns first baseman did everything he normally does when he came to hit in the ninth inning. That was the easy part, because the Suns were doing the same things they seem to do every game.

Evans clubbed a 2-1 pitch over the right-field fence for a one-out grand slam Tuesday to bring Hagerstown back from the dead and into a 6-6 tie with Lake County. The Suns finished the five-run rally when Leivi Ventura scored from second on a wild pitch and catcher Omar Casillas' throwing error into right field to steal a 7-6 victory before 2,733 fans in an Education Day matinee at Municipal Stadium.

Ho-hum. What else is new? The Suns have been making the ninth inning their little shop of horrors all season.

"It was a funny thing," Evans said. "We came in (in the ninth) down 6-2 and everyone was saying that's the way it's been all along for us. Every time we are down, we seem to get the tying run in the ninth."

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It hasn't been every time, but the Suns sure make it interesting. Hagerstown has scored in its final at-bat in 11 of its 18 games, including all seven games of this homestand, in which they are 6-5.

"Someone on the team said, 'Let's give them runs and just come back in the ninth,'" Evans said. "We never give up."

It would have been one of those games when the Suns could have very well pitched it in.

Lake County grabbed a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning and used four home runs to build the 6-2 advantage. Meanwhile, the Suns had little to show for a 12-hit day, after leaving 10 runners on base and hitting into four double plays.

"We had guys on base but we left like a dozen on," Hagerstown manager Frank Cacciatore said. "We weren't able to get the big hit or the two-out hit to tack on runs. (Lake County) made the mistake by not getting the ball over the plate in the ninth inning. They let us get right back in it."

Matt Anderson and Fernando Martinez opened the Hagerstown ninth by drawing a walks from Captains reliever Mark Jecman. Matt Davis replaced Jecman with one out and immediately walked Jonathan Sanchez to load the bases.

Evans stepped in and took three pitches before launching the game-tying shot, his fourth home run of the year.

"I had to keep the same approach," Evans said. "I went in there looking for something to drive. I knew the ball was carrying in (the right-field) direction, but I couldn't go for it. It just happened."

And it just happened to put the Suns in contention for a win to end a three-game losing streak and avoid a sweep by the Captains.

Ventura followed Evans' blast with a single to center and took second when Hector Pellot walked. Ventura broke to third when Davis uncorked a pitch in the dirt that skipped to the left of Casillas. Casillas, knowing he couldn't get Ventura at third, fired to first to try and pick off Pellot. The throw went wide to the left of first baseman Fernando Pecheco and into right field, allowing Ventura to score the game-winning run.

"Nick was overdue," Cacciatore said. "But that's why he is in the middle of the lineup because he is going to get hits like that. He had been chasing high pitches. Today, he laid off of one and hit the next pitch out. He made the adjustment.

"But now, we were back in the game. We could hit and run again and be aggressive. Leivi made a good read of the ball in the dirt and the catcher tried to make something happen at the back door. We played according to the scoreboard. We were two and three runs down and we waited, waited, waited for the chance we got."

Kevin Tomasiewicz (3-0) won in relief of Suns starter Sal Aguilar, despite allowing three solo home runs. Pacheco and Jose Constanza each homered in the seventh and Chris De La Cruz rode the wind to right in the ninth to build Lake County's four-run lead.

The Suns got a run in the first when Martinez scored on Sanchez's infield single to second against a drawn-in infield. Jonel Pacheco gave Hagerstown its second run in the sixth with a bases-loaded infield single.

"We aren't playing just to win in the bottom of the ninth," Cacciatore said. "This club plays a full nine innings and a full 27 outs. This team plays it out to see what happens."

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