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Suns break down after rundown

May 02, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

Yunior Novoa's day was colored by numbers Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the Hagerstown Suns starting pitcher, the whole effort will be defined by an unaccountable black mark.

Novoa had his best outing of the year for the first 5 2/3 innings - zero runs, one hit, two walks and six strikeouts - against potent West Virginia. But his failure to execute on a routine rundown play opened the floodgates in the Suns' 14-3 loss to the power.

Novoa and the Suns got the education on Education Day. And in this case, they failed.

"That was just a bad play," said Suns manager Tommy Herr. "We had the guy picked off for the third out and the pitcher doesn't get over and execute the play. It ended up costing us."

Novoa's brief loss of consciousness opened the door for two runs in the sixth that never would have scored to break the scoreless tie. And from there, the dam broke as the Power added eight runs in the seventh en route to turning Novoa's colorful outing into black-and-white reality.

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Or black-and-blue in this case, if you are the Suns' pitching staff.

Novoa (0-4) had two outs in the sixth before Michael Brantley singled to right for West Virginia's second hit of the game.

With Chuck Caufield batting, Novoa caught Brantley leaning in his lead and threw to first for the pickoff. First baseman Brett McMillian chased Brantley up the line and threw the ball to shortstop Stephen King.

King ran Brantley back to first base, where he slid back in safely because Novoa didn't get over to cover the bag after his throw in a play most teams consistently practice.

"(Novoa) pitched well and worked fast," Herr said. "He seemed to upset them by how fast he was working. They tried to step out of the box to slow him down. It was just a mental mistake on that play, otherwise he would have been out of there through six (innings) without any runs."

With the inning prolonged, Caufield singled to left and Andy Bouchie doubled to the left-field fence to drive in the two runs.

"Who knows what would have happened if we would have executed that play?" Herr said. "That gave them momentum going into the next inning. We haven't been able to stop the bleeding two nights in a row."

The Suns (9-16) failed to score on two early-inning opportunities, leaving runners stranded at third base with less than two outs in the second and third innings.

Novoa was lifted after Bouchie's double and turned the game over to the Suns' paper-thin bullpen. Josh Wilkie, who finished the sixth, and Coby Marvoulis were victimized in the seventh.

The Power (18-4) sent 13 men to the plate in the seventh, scoring eight runs on seven hits with the help of two costly Suns errors. Marvoulis committed the third of five Hagerstown errors by bobbling Kenny Holmberg's two-out comeback grounder to the mound with the bases loaded. It started a string of five extra runs, all unearned, to give West Virginia a 10-0 lead.

Steve Chapman had two hits and two RBI in the inning.

The Suns labored against Power starter Alex Periard (2-0), who pitched six shutout innings, allowing four hits without a walk while striking out four.

Hagerstown averted the shutout in the eighth while trailing 11-0 against reliever Mike Ramlow. Joe Napoli led off the inning with a home run over the center-field wall and Chris Marrero followed Mike Daniel's one-out double with a blast to right to cut the deficit to eight runs.

But Matt Perks allowed three more runs in the ninth - aided when Marrero dropped a fly in left field - to add more injury to insult to the Suns.

"We are short in the bullpen right now and we need the starters to start going deeper into the games," Herr said. "(Monday), we had to use a reliever as a starter and you hope he could go four innings, but things happened. We used four guys from the bullpen yesterday and three more today."

Darren Ford had three hits, three RBI and two stolen bases to pace West Virginia's 15-hit attack. Marrero and McMillian had two hits each in Hagerstown's eight-hit game.

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