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Shorebirds head off Suns at the pass

June 17, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Jose Castro painfully learned a lesson on Friday: Running bases is a lot like having confidence.

Both are performed most effectively when you have your head up.

Castro collected a clutch, one-out RBI single in the eighth inning to bring the Hagerstown Suns within one run of the Delmarva Shorebirds. But in a moment of youthful exuberance, he was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.

It was the end of the story of another comeback try, as the Suns fell 3-2 to Delmarva, lighting the fuse for 3,131 fireworks fans at Municipal Stadium.

In Castro's defense, all the good intentions were there. The execution was a little faulty.

"He came up with a big base hit after having a week off with an injury," said Suns manager Frank Cacciatore. "But even after having a week off, you have to make the right decisions. Castro went to second and was running with his head down. (First base coach Luis Natera) was trying to make him hold the bag. Still, you can't fault his exuberance."

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It was a risk that didn't pay off for the Suns. Instead of being the tying run on base, Castro became the second out and all but ended the inning. The Suns threatened in the ninth, with Drew Butera drawing a leadoff walk off Delmarva closer Jim Hoey, but Hagerstown failed to bring around the tying run.

The Suns saw a 1-0 lead melt in the fourth when a throwing error, followed by an inning-prolonging two-out walk, spelled the downfall of starter Jonathan Niece (7-4).

Arturo Rivas drew a leadoff walk and Ryan Finan singled, setting up a sacrifice bunting situation for Quincy Ascencion.

Ascencion put the ball down in front of Niese, who fired wildly to third for an error to allow the tying run the score.

Mark Fleisher followed with an RBI infield single before Brandon Snyder hit into a double play to bring home another run for a 3-1 lead. Niese compounded his problems by walking C.J. Smith, the No. 8 batter who was hitting .209, to prolong the inning by two more batters.

"I didn't think (throwing to third on the bunt) was a bad decision," Cacciatore said. "But you have to make the play. The error didn't really hurt us that much because we got the double play. The thing that hurt more was the second walk. It forced Niese to throw 15 extra pitches to two extra hitters, making him throw real hard. It ended up taking him out of the game."

With the two-run deficit, the Suns turned to Waner Mateo to keep them in the game. Mateo responded with five shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out five.

"Mateo did a great job," Cacciatore said. "We were down 3-1 and we wanted him to go in there as long as he could against (Delmarva starter Manny) Basilio. He's got a nice arm and he's been tough against us. We knew we weren't going to get many runs off of him."

The Suns had their chances early and got a run in the first off Basilio (5-2). Joe Holden led off with a single and took second after tagging up on Hector Pellot's foulout to right. He moved to third on Jonathan Sanchez's single before scoring on Nick Evans' fielder's choice grounder.

Hagerstown continued to put the pressure on Basilio for the next two innings. The Suns loaded the bases in the third, but failed to score. After the early salvo, Basilio only allowed one runner as far as second over the next four innings.

The Suns were forced to endure another lesson.

"We are looking for quality play on a daily basis," Cacciatore said. "We want to go out and minimize the mistakes. If we can do that, the wins will take care of themselves."

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