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Suns' rays can't change Suns' ways

game postponed

July 31, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

When it rains, it pours when things aren't going well.

But it's been going so badly for the Hagerstown Suns lately, it doesn't even have to rain. After all, they have lost 11 of their last 13 games.

It only got worse Monday. Even though it was sunny and 85 degrees at Municipal Stadium, you would have never known it since the Suns' game with Augusta was postponed because of unplayable field conditions.

Sunday's short but heavy rainstorm caused a large pocket of standing water - specifically in the second base and shortstop areas - and the efforts to ready the field fell short.

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"The field has been in worse condition when we have had storms on the same day and still played," Suns general manager Will Smith said. "But today we couldn't because of a combination of conditions. There were a couple of soft spots and the managers thought it was unsafe to put the players out there."

The grounds crew worked on the infield all day. Hagerstown manager Tommy Herr and Augusta manager Roberto Kelly came out to look at the infield. Both were concerned by the conditions and voted not to play the game.

Smith, who has the final decision on playing before the umpires take the field, reluctantly agreed. The game was postponed and will be made up Wednesday as part of a 6:05 p.m. doubleheader.

"There's not much you can do," Herr said. "There was a lot of soft ground around the infield. Safety issues come first, especially at this level."

Suns officials monitored the local radar through the weekend because of the storms that hit the area. On Sunday, with a skeleton staff on duty, the sudden storm hit quickly at 6 p.m. without enough personnel on hand to cover the field.

"They were watching the radar and there was nothing," Smith said. "Suddenly, there was a red blob over Hagerstown. There was a call to get enough people here to pull the tarp, but the storm only lasted a half-hour and by the time everyone got here, it was too late."

The grounds crew was against the clock all day Monday.

"We did everything we could," Smith said. "They had the sump pumps out to drain the water and then they raked and dragged the field, but it wouldn't dry. Usually the wind will help dry things out, but today we didn't have any wind and it was humid all day, which didn't take any of the moisture."

Smith said the grounds crew could have got one of the problem areas ready to play with another 1-2 hours of work, but couldn't get them both in perfect playing condition.

The decision was made to call the game at 6:45 p.m., 20 minutes before the scheduled first pitch, turning away a Feed Your Face Monday crowd. Tickets will be honored at a future game.

"This all caught me off guard," said Smith. "We didn't expect this."

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