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History not on Suns' side

August 11, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns learned a little bit about history on Thursday.

It has a habit of haunting you. Case in point.

"You can't win games if you don't get pitching and good defense," Suns manager Frank Cacciatore said. "That's the way the game has been played for over a hundred years. It hasn't changed."

And the Suns didn't do anything close to changing it. Pitcher Jonathan Niese had a rough start and the Suns' defense committed four errors, all directly leading to a rather unflattering 10-3 loss to Greensboro before 3,769 thirst-quenched patrons at Municipal Stadium.

"We didn't play the best defense and we didn't pitch the best," Cacciatore said. "That was what we were doing well when we were winning. We didn't do it tonight."

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It turned out to be a slow, painful death for the Suns (47-69, 19-27) as the Grasshoppers just chipped and chopped away while taking advantage of every extra opportunity presented them via walks and errors. Only three of the 10 runs were unearned, but the mistakes prolonged innings and gave numerous second chances.

Greensboro (59-56, 23-22) got to Niese (11-8) in the first in slow, agonizing fashion.

Jamie Guerrero drew a one-out walk followed by consecutive singles by Andrew Jenkins, Brad Correll and Brett Hayes, the last two producing runs.

With runners on first and second, Jonathan Fulton hit a liner that started slicing away from right fielder Jesus Gamero. Gamero laid out for a diving catch, gathered himself and threw to second base to try and double off Correll. Second baseman Hector Pellot cut off the throw and threw the relay up the third-base line, allowing the runners to advance.

After the possible inning-ending double play was botched, Colin Roberson followed with a two-run single for a 4-0 lead.

"Jonathan was just making mistakes early," Cacciatore said. "He was leaving pitches up and they were hitting them. Errors are going to happen, but we had a guy doubled off and threw the ball away. It went from a two-run to a four-run inning and that changed a whole lot of things."

The Grasshoppers made it 5-0 in the third by loading the bases on two walks and a hit batsman before Fulton launched a sacrifice fly to left.

The Suns started to climb back into the game with a run in the bottom of the third. Sean Henry, the Suns' newest edition, led off with a double to left off Greenboro starter Aaron Thompson (8-7) and kept his base on Jose Castro's infield single before stealing third. He scored on a fielder's choice when Jonel Pacheco avoided a double play.

Hagerstown's big chance came in the fifth when it loaded the bases with one out. Pacheco popped to second before Nick Evans battled Thompson, winning the war with a two-run single to make it 5-3. Ryan Coultas fouled out to end the threat.

"We put ourselves behind the eight ball," Cacciatore said. "If you are two runs down, you can still play hit and run. But when you are four or five runs down, you have to play for the big inning and bang away to get a crooked number."

Colin Roberson ruined the Suns' chance for momentum by countering their rally with a two-run home run in the sixth.

"We countered with two runs and then they countered back with that home run and that hurt us," Cacciatore said.

Niese was lifted at the end of the inning after allowing seven runs (five earned) on six hits.

Waner Mateo finished out the game, allowing three runs after a fielding error by third baseman Leivi Ventura prolonged the inning and a second throwing error by Pellot added a run.

Roberson drove in four runs for Greensboro, while Jenkins finished with three hits. Pellot and Castro finished with three hits each for the Suns.

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