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Grasshoppers keep Suns from going for seconds

August 14, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

As much as the Hagerstown Suns struggled to get on base Sunday night against Greensboro, the more difficult challenge became advancing to the next base.

Only five Suns reached base - just two that advanced to second - and Greensboro pitchers combined to face just two batters over the minimum in a four-hitter as the Grasshoppers notched a 1-0 victory at Municipal Stadium.

Of the five Suns baserunners, two were caught stealing and one was forced out on a double play. Rafael Arroyo doubled and Jesus Gamero singled and advanced on a sacrifice bunt to represent the only Suns in scoring position.

"We didn't really have anybody out there (on the bases)," said Hagerstown manager Frank Cacciatore. "We only had a couple of guys get to second ... Arroyo's two-out double and when Gamero got a base hit and got there on a sacrifice. We just didn't have many opportunities."

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The biggest opportunity for Greensboro bounced into a gift-wrapped lead in the fifth inning.

Greg Burns hit a drive to the opposite field and over the head of Suns left fielder Jonel Pacheco, who was playing shallow for the Grasshoppers No. 9 hitter. Burns landed on third with a triple and no outs. Suns pitcher Zac Clements threw wild to the next batter and the ball ricocheted off the backstop and rolled into the Suns dugout on the first-base side. Burns, who was not running on the wild pitch, was awarded home and Greensboro took a 1-0 lead.

"The big thing was the ball caromed. Then it just trickled down," Cacciatore said. "(Burns) wasn't running, so he still would have been at third if not for that."

The play turned out to be important for the Grasshoppers (25-23, 61-57) because Clements recovered to strike the batter out. He hit the following batter before inducing a ground ball that could have served as a possible double play to strand Burns at third.

The offense of the Suns (20-29, 48-71) was in no shape to keep up with the bad breaks and Greensboro pitching. Starter Rafael Galbizo, who made his 38th appearance of the season but just his second start, retired seven straight after giving up a leadoff single to Jose Castro.

Arroyo's double broke up that string, but Galbizo (4-5) went on to retire five of the next six before giving way to the bullpen in the sixth.

Brad Stone started the parade of four Greensboro relievers that picked up where Galbizo left off. The bullpen allowed two hits over the final four innings, capped by a perfect ninth from Mauro Zarate for the save.

"Our guys are trying to do their job and hit the ball, but the pitcher has got to do his job too," Cacciatore said. "It's different when you're five runs up or five down and you're going to see good stuff. In a game like this where you've got to get the out, you're going to see his best stuff. It's a face-to-face battle."

Clements (0-2) pitched well enough to win, but took the hard-luck loss for the Suns. The 26-year-old scattered five hits in six innings and struck out four.

Arroyo, who finished with two of the Suns' four hits, was sharp behind the plate as he caught three Greensboro runners stealing.

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