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Clubhouse Chatter - There is no such thing as a simple play

April 30, 2006|By Bob Parasiliti

The Hagerstown Suns got the taste of living in a soap opera.

That's where fortunes change dramatically because of a seemingly unrelated incident or something that happened earlier, but could have been easily overlooked.

On Monday, a garden-variety single turned the Suns into Desperate Home Team, at least for the day.

It didn't seem like much. It was a topped bouncer off the bat of Lake County's Johnny Drennen with two outs and none on in the top of the fourth.

Hagerstown third baseman Leivi Ventura charged the ball, had trouble getting a grip on it out of his glove and threw late to third as Drennen beat out a single.

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No big deal. Yet Chris Giminez followed with a single and Fernando Pacheco doubled to give Lake County a 2-1 lead en route to a 6-3 victory.

"The thing that turned the game around was that slow roller," Suns manager Frank Cacciatore said. "Leivi came in and double clutched it and it kept the inning alive. You got to give (Drennen) credit. He had great hustle there. And then, before you knew it, they had two runs."

The single and the two runs didn't seem like much. After all, the Suns had 18 outs left in the game and were only trailing by one run.

Still, the play from the anti-highlight reel changed the complexion of the game for the Suns.

First, it started an unwanted drain on pitcher Jeff Landing. Until then, the Suns starter efficiently cruised through the Captains' lineup, facing just two batters over the minimum because of a pair of walks and an error.

"Landing was throwing a fine ball game," Cacciatore said. "He was in a situation there where he could have been out of the inning easily. He was conserving pitches and looked like he might be in there for seven innings. The one play made him labor more.

Landing was forced to face three more hitters and throw an extra 12 pitches, which drained his pitch count limit. That cost him an extra inning of work and forced the Suns to go to the bullpen sooner than anticipated.

"He worked his butt off in the fourth," Cacciatore said.

Second was a switch of momentum. The Suns had scratched out a 1-0 lead, which would have been preserved if it weren't for the bang-bang play. Instead of coming off the field with a 1-0 lead, Hagerstown trailed by a run. That put Old Mo in a Lake County uniform.

"We make that play and we come off with a 1-0 lead," Cacciatore said. "You don't know, but we might have been able to hang up some more runs before they scored and changed the whole game. We didn't do much in the middle innings, but that was a big for them."

The one play changed the lineup Landing faced, because Giminez and Pacheco would have come up to lead off the fifth, with no one on and facing a different pitch sequence and approach.

It's a lot of ifs but it is still baseball.

"You have to give (Drennen) credit," Cacciatore said. "That hustle kept the inning alive and gave them a shot."

Marathon men Grab one for Guiness?

The Suns and Lakewood have some unfinished business to take care of Saturday. That's when the two teams will resume last Wednesday's game, which was suspended after 17 innings and 6 hours, 3 minues of play.

When it resumes, the game could become the longest game in South Atlantic League history.

The SAL records for longest game are 6:45 and 22 innings.

The all-time minor league game? 8:26 or 34 innings. Longest game ever? Try 10:01 or 46 innings.

Look ahead

The Suns complete the quick three-game homestand with Delmarva (Orioles) on Monday before an off day Tuesday. Hagerstown will start a six-game roadtrip with three games at Lake County and three at Lakewood before returning home May 9.




Bob Parasiliti covers the Hagerstown Suns for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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