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Defensive play gives Suns case of 'double' vision

June 26, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns have become very accustomed to doing double time lately.

Maybe just not in this way.

Heavy rain forced the Suns to postpone their series finale with Lakewood on Sunday, setting up a doubleheader and a four-game series when the BlueClaws return to town next weekend.

To watch the Suns of late, you'd swear they were chewing Doublemint gum, shopping for two-for-one bargains and enjoying double cheeseburgers when they go out. It's becoming obvious that they realize two is better than one.

That's because Hagerstown leads the South Atlantic League in double plays. The Suns have turned in 84 twin killings, further proving their defense is improving by the day.

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Hagerstown started the season modestly with 20 DPs in April and 31 in May, but has turned in 33 in the first 21 games of June.

"Our defense has been improving," Suns manager Frank Cacciatore said. "We have been turning a lot more double plays. We have been practicing them every day and it is starting to pay off."

Shortstop Jose Castro has sparkled defensively in June with his range and third baseman Leivi Ventura and first baseman Nick Evans have turned into capable glovemen on the corners of the infield. Second baseman Hector Pellot has had problems with errors, but has shown vast improvement in making the turn after recording outs on grounders to the left side.

The double-play ability has allowed the defense to escape tight situations while giving a confidence boost to the pitching staff. Hagerstown has turned three double plays in four games in June and two in six others.

Sunday's rainout knocked the Suns off their roll, for at least a day. The game will be made up Saturday at 6:05 p.m. with a pair of seven-inning games. The Suns head to Delmarva today for a pair of games and then bring the Shorebirds back to Municipal Stadium on Wednesday for a two-game set before greeting Lakewood again on Friday.

In staying with the theme, the Suns made two roster moves on Saturday as outfielder Elvis Cruz and pitcher Grady Hinchman were sent to Single-A Brooklyn in the New York-Penn League.

Cruz hit .260 with four home runs and 19 RBI in 40 games for the Suns while establishing himself as one of their clutch hitting threats as the fourth outfielder. Hinchman, a left-hander, was 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA.

Replacing them on the roster are outfielder Will Vogl and left-handed pitcher Eric Domangue.

Vogl was signed as a free agent this month after hitting .380 for St. John's this year. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Domangue was the New York Mets' 16th pick in the 2005 draft, going 1-0 at Brooklyn last year.

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