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Plasencia's patience pays off in ninth for Suns

June 16, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

Somewhere, Francisco Plasencia's last name may translate as patience.

And it would be fitting.

Especially since the new Hagerstown center fielder has reached base in seven of his first nine plate appearances in his first two games with the Suns - six of them on walks.

But the most important at-bat on Friday, though, was one that didn't count. He failed to reach base, but was patient all the same.

Plasencia hit a deep flyout to center field on reliever Kyle DeYoung's second pitch with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning, bringing home Mike Martinez from third with the winning run as the Suns escaped with a 9-8 victory over Lexington before 3,345 fans at Municipal Stadium.

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"It's almost like that," Plasencia said, with a smile, about the "patience" correlation. "When I came down here from Potomac, I didn't want to come and get a lot of strikeouts."

It's been quite the opposite since he arrived as part of the huge shuffle of players the Suns endured this week. Plasencia came back from Single-A Potomac to get more time and work.

After drawing three walks in four trips on Thursday, Plasencia was at the top of the order Friday and led off the game with a single to start the Suns' three-run first. He drew walks in his second, third and fifth plate appearances, scoring what became a huge insurance run in the eighth before Lexington scored three runs off reliever Aaron Jackson in the ninth to tie the game at 8.

"He's shown a lot of patience in his first couple of games," said Suns manager Tommy Herr. "He hit a lot of leadoff at Potomac and he and Sheldon Fulse will be hitting a lot of leadoff for us here."

The Suns bounced back after giving the lead away in the ninth. Martinez led off the bottom half with a grounder deep in the hole at short off reliever Chad Wagler that shortstop Jhon Florentino air-mailed past first for a two-base error.

After Francisco Guzman received an intentional walk, Erick San Pedro laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. Wagler intentionally walked pinch hitter Leonard Davis to load the bases with one out to end his night.

Plasencia took his time as DeYoung came on, and he got what he wanted to end the game.

"I was looking for the right pitch," he said. "His first pitch was a fastball and the second was a change, and I was looking for that. I saw him warming up and he was throwing a two-seamer down. I was just waiting for a curve or changeup to hit."

The ninth run became just enough to win, but it was the three runs the Suns didn't score that nearly cost them.

Hagerstown had three runners gunned down - two at the plate and one in a rundown - in each of the first three innings, which nearly came back to haunt the Suns in the long run.

Joe Napoli was thrown out at the plate while trying to score on Guzman's single to end the three-run first inning. Plasencia was gunned down in the second on two terrific relay throws while trying to score on Marcos Cabral's double to end the second. And Marvin Lowrance got caught in a rundown between home and third on Martinez's grounder to third for the second out of the third.

"We gave one away in the first with Joe, but it was partly my fault because I told him when he rounded third that he could stay up," Herr said. "I didn't expect there would be a play at the plate because the ball was hit so softly and he didn't slide when the guys around the plate were telling him to. The second one, I sent (Plasencia) because there were two outs and they needed to make two good throws and they did."

Lost in the scramble at the end was the good start by Yunior Novoa, who went 5 1/3 innings before tiring in the sixth and allowing two runs to cut the Suns' lead to 5-2. Josh Wilkie allowed three runs in the eighth at the end of his 2 2/3-inning stint before Lexington roughed up Jackson in the ninth.

Tim Torres hit a two-run home run to center and Chris Johnson added an RBI single off Johnathan Castro's glove at second to tie the game for the Legends.

The Suns scored three in the first on four hits, and added single runs in the third, fourth and sixth - the last on Lowrance's first homer as a Sun, to right field. He finished with two hits and three RBI while Robert Jacobsen added the key two-run double in the eighth.

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