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Unearned runs prove costly for Hagerstown

July 17, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

The face of the Hagerstown Suns continues to change.

But the team's biggest problem seems to stay in town.

"It's the same old thing," said manager Tommy Herr. "We make the critical mistake at the critical time."

It happened again Monday. The pitching and the bats were doing their jobs. An error proved to be the downfall. Leonard Davis threw away a tough-hop grounder to third in the sixth inning to allow Lake County to score two unearned runs. When it was over, it was just enough to saddle the Suns with a 7-6 loss.

"We were in a position where we hung in there and our pitching was keeping us in the game," Herr said. "Then we gave up two unearned runs and it was a mountain we couldn't get over. Instead of a 5-3 game, it was 7-3."

And it left the Suns (8-16, 37-54) a run short in the end.

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Lake County had a 5-3 lead heading into the sixth when Matt McBride and Beau Mills led off with singles off reliever Aaron Jackson. The runners advanced on a grounder and Jackson struck out Nick Weglarz to get in position to get out of the inning.

But Cirilo Cumberbatch followed with a hard hit grounder that handcuffed Davis on the hop. He scrambled to get the ball and hurried a throw that got by first baseman Robby Jacobsen, allowing both runners to score.

"It's tough," Herr said. "The infield here is tough and there are a lot of bad bounces that hurts both teams. There are times where it happens and it creates some ugly innings."

Still, it was the first of two errors on the night for the Suns, giving them 152 in 91 games.

The four-run lead gave Lake County (13-11, 43-50) just enough cushion to hold on for the win.

The Suns came back with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, starting when Joe Napoli legged out a one-out infield single to short off starter Carlton Smith (7-6) and was awarded second on a throwing error.

With two outs, Jhonatan Solano greeted reliever Adam Creps with an RBI single to center. Francisco Guzman followed with a single and both runners scored on Mike Martinez's double to right to cut the deficit to 7-6.

The rest was left to the bullpens.

"I was pleased with the way we swung the bats and the way we kept battling," Herr said. "But when you keep counting on two-out hits to produce runs, it gets tough."

Lake County jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first as Mills launched a sacrifice fly and Carlos Rivero slapped an RBI single off starter Yunior Novoa (5-9).

The Suns answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning without the ball leaving the infield. Jacobsen, Marcos Cabral and Davis all had infield singles to bring home the first run and Napoli hit a fielder's choice grounder to first off the handle of the bat to allow Cabral to score.

Lake County took a 5-2 lead with three runs in the fourth, highlighted by an RBI double by Adam Davis and run-scoring singles by Mills and Rivero.

The Suns closed to within 5-3 on Napoli's leadoff homer in the fourth.

Smith got the win, allowing four runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, while Novoa took the loss, allowing five runs on six hits and five walks.

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