Wintry mix: Leonard grand in Suns' loss

April 06, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

A little thing meant a lot to Leonard Davis.

It was a prelude to a bigger thing that meant a whole lot more to the Hagerstown Suns.

Davis' bunt single and grand slam were the long and the short of opening day for the Suns in a 5-4 loss to the Hickory Crawdads before a nearly imaginary crowd of 2,569 in the Winter Wonderland of Municipal Stadium.

Davis went 4-for-4 and put Hagerstown back in the game with his eighth-inning grand slam after falling behind 5-0. Still, even in defeat, the stroke put the Suns in that desired prime position.

"It was nice to come back and put ourselves in the position to win the game in the ninth," said Suns manager Tommy Herr. "You try to do that every time, day in and day out, just to get in that position. Leonard's a guy whose positive tool is his bat. It is pretty special the night he had on opening day."


The Suns debuted as the new Single A affiliate of the Washington Nationals by displaying a mix of positives and negatives.

The negatives came as five of Hickory's nine hits went for extra bases. It started with Jamie Romak's solo home run in the second and was capped by Eddie Prasch's two-run triple in the eighth for the five-run lead.

The biggest of positives was Davis.

Davis led the way with two doubles, but didn't know he was having a great night until the seventh inning. It came in the form in a leadoff drag bunt to first off Hickory reliever Charles Benoit.

"I saw some good pitches and that helped," the second baseman said. "But when they brought in that left-hander, I asked my hitting coach if I could put down a bunt. I have been working on that. Once I got it down, I knew things were going good."

Hagerstown held Hickory to a 3-0 lead until the eighth when Prasch ricocheted a drive off the center-field wall for the crucial triple off Suns reliever Greg Bunn.

The Suns looked down and out in the eighth after Crawdads reliever Basilio Alvarez struck out the first two batters he faced. It changed as Chris Marrero lined a single off Prasch's glove at third base.

After Brett McMillian walked, Jeff Maxwell struck out swinging on a wild pitch to reach first and load the bases.

It prolonged the inning for Davis.

The left-handed hitter put the life back in the Suns by pulling an Alvarez pitch for a high drive down the right-field line that stayed just inside the foul pole to clear the wall and the bases.

"I didn't hit it very good," Davis said. "But I hit it high and saw that the flags were sticking straight out. I was just hoping it wouldn't curve foul."

It didn't and the Suns had that chance Herr was playing for.

They were unable to follow though, though, as Kyle Pearson retired Hagerstown in order in the ninth for the save of starting pitcher Jared Hughes' victory.

"We hit up and down the lineup today, but with the exception of the grand slam, we didn't get the hits we needed with runners in scoring position," Herr said. "We played well. It's tough to play a perfect game in conditions like this."

Both teams battled through falling temperatures and snowglobe conditions with intermittent flurries.

Hickory scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings off Hagerstown starter Marco Estrada (1-0) to get the early advantage in the raw conditions.

Kristopher Watts ripped an RBI single to left in the third. Romak doubled and eventually scored when Suns third baseman J.D. Reinsinger failed to handle Kent Sakamoto's grounder against a drawn-in infield for the 3-0 lead.

Romak, Watts and Prasch had two hits each.

Chris Marrero had two hits for the Suns, who struck out 11 times on the night.

"We hung in and we were in the game until the two-run triple in the eighth inning. That was the deciding blow," Herr said. "Then we dropped the four-spot and had a chance.

"I feel good about this team. The good thing about this game is after each night you are able to turn the page and start over again the next game."

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