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Landing grounds Captains

May 11, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Historically, Lake County has used the Hagerstown Suns as its own personal launching pad.

The Captains held a 39-13 record against the Suns during Lake County's first three years of existence.

But on Wednesday, the Captains were forced to file an emergency flight plan. They faced a tough Landing.

Hagerstown starter Jeff Landing continued to have his way with Lake County in 2006, this time giving up two hits in five scoreless innings to lead the Suns to a 3-0 victory before 4,398 youthful fans in an Education Day matinee at Municipal Stadium.

It was the fourth time Landing pitched against Lake County this season, three resulting in dominant results.

"I've seen these guys a lot and I'm just comfortable against them," Landing said. "When teams see each other a lot and they know each other, it comes down to executing pitches."

Landing showed good movement all game, with breaking pitches that looked so far outside Lake County hitters gave up on them. Then, a late break would shave the edge of the plate for strikes.

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"It was just confidence," Landing said. "When you have the confidence, you go out and try to be successful. I was just trying to get ahead in the count."

Landing (2-5) is now 2-1 against Lake County, allowing three earned runs over 23 2/3 innings, good for a 1.14 ERA. In his other games, the right-hander is 0-3 with 11 earned runs over 15 innings for a 6.60 ERA.

Landing shut down the Captains last Friday, going 8 1/3 shutout innings while allowing four hits in a 4-0 victory.

"It was good to see Jeff do well in back-to-back outings," said Hagerstown manager Frank Cacciatore. "And he did it against the same club ... and that's a good club. Both pitchers were pitching well. It was a matter of the first team to crack the ice."

The Suns took care of the ice in the fifth inning against Lake County starter Alberto Vargas (3-3), with the help of two hit batters and a mishandled throw.

Leivi Ventura led off the inning with a double to the left-field fence before Jonel Pacheco was hit in the hand with a pitch.

Matt Anderson attempted to move the runners with a sacrifice bunt down the third-base line.

Catcher Josh Noviskey pounced on it and threw to third, trying for the force out. But Nick Petrucci allowed the throw to squirt out of the top of his glove, allowing Ventura to reach safely.

Rafael Arroyo put the Suns on the board with an RBI single to center.

"Arroyo has (got the big hit) a lot for us," Cacciatore said. "Both teams were going up there and going 1-2-3. We got the bases loaded and he gave us his best at-bat when we needed it. We strive to get the best at-bats when they come up in those situations."

Elvis Cruz lofted a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead. After Hector Pellot was hit with a pitch to reload the bases, Jose Castro singled to short center to score Anderson, but Arroyo was thrown out at the plate.

"Arroyo's hit was big," Cacciatore said. "Once we got that first run, things were going good. When things are going good, the next guy up is better because he has nothing to worry about and when they go bad, guys tend to tighten up. Arroyo's hit allowed everyone to swing a lot freer."

With the lead in hand, Landing was lifted from the game in favor of left-hander Grady Hinchman. Hinchman allowed a hit and a walk over three innings before Marcelo Perez came on to retire the Captains in order - including two strikeouts - for the save.

Arroyo and Ventura each had two of the Suns' seven hits for the game. Hagerstown pitching combined for nine strikeouts.

South Hagerstown graduate P.J. Hiser didn't play in the game and remains on Lake County's disabled list with a sore shoulder.

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