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BlueClaws bury Suns' treasure

June 23, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Ryan Meyers pitched a gem.

Jose Castro came up with a fielding gem.

Drew Butera and Elvis Cruz made solid-gold baserunning decisions.

It had all the makings of a second-half start the Hagerstown Suns could treasure. The only problem, the treasure got buried.

Lakewood scratched out two runs in the seventh inning - keyed by Michael Spidale's home run - and got the benefit of a key eighth-inning double play Thursday to pull out a 2-1 victory over the Suns before 3,022 thirst-quenched fans at Municipal Stadium.

It was a game that had about everything Suns manager Frank Cacciatore could ask for to start the second half ... except the victory.

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"We played well," Cacciatore said. "It was just one pitch up and the guy hit it out of the park. And then we had the fielding error, but still, if we keep playing like that, we'll be OK."

Meyers and Lakewood starter Zach Cline locked up in a fast-paced game through the first six innings. The Suns manufactured a run in the fifth when Cline hit Castro to lead off the inning. Castro stole second on the left-hander with two outs and two strikes. Cruz immediately cashed in the move with a single to right for the 1-0 lead.

Meyers worked into the seventh and got a quick boost from Castro's glovework. Speedy Greg Golson hit a hot grounder deep in the hole, forcing Castro to make a diving play to his right before getting up and firing to first for the out.

Spidale cooled the buzz from the play, though, by stroking the home run to right to tie the game. Meyers' day ended when Jeremy Slayden grounded to second, but reached on Hector Pellot's awkward throw to first.

"We were playing really well, especially the way Ryan was pitching," Cacciatore said. "That error opened the door and no one will remember the great backhand Castro made. That was a big play against a good runner. He doesn't make that and the home run makes it 2-1. If Pellot makes his play, we are looking to get out of there at 1-1."

After the error, Lakewood greeted reliever Brandon Nall with Clay Harris' double and Avelino Asprilla's RBI single to right for the 2-1 lead.

The Suns threatened to tie the game in the eighth, but were foiled in the worst possible scenario.

Butera greeted Lakewood reliever Pat Overholt with a double to the left-field fence and moved to third on Cruz's single. Joe Holden, one of Hagerstown's hottest hitters, made contact, but got unfavorable results.

Holden hit a soft liner to second base, forcing Cruz to freeze in his tracks. Asprilla allowed the ball to hit the ground and threw to shortstop Fidel Hernandez for the force at second. But instead of firing to first to get Holden, the throw came home and gunned down Butera at the plate.

"That was a tough play," Cacciatore said. "Read it too early, and it turns into a triple play. Read it too late, and it's a triple play. Cruz had to wait to see if the liner would be caught. I sent Butera, taking my chances. It looked like bad base-running, but that was the worst thing that could happen for us ... a soft line drive."

Holden put the Suns back in contention by stealing second, but Leivi Ventura struck out to end the inning.

Andy Barb came on for Lakewood in the ninth to nail down his 10th save.

Meyers took the loss despite pitching 6 1/3 creditable innings, allowing the two runs on four hits while striking out two. Cline went six innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out five. Neither pitcher walked a batter.

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