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Check, please? Suns' fortunes swing on call

August 17, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

Goose, gander ... Tomato, tomotto ... Check swing, full swing.

They are all terms that have fueled debates for years. And the controversy of the latter had the Hagerstown Suns angry and talking to themselves on Thursday.

Two swing calls - one checked, the other called a strike - were among a number of interesting situations that turned the Suns' solid game into a house of cards as Greensboro rallied to tie the game in the ninth before winning 6-5 on Spike McDonald's leadoff home run in the 10th.

Greensboro rallied for four runs in the ninth - all coming after two outs - to erase a 3-1 lead the Suns protected until the end. After Hagerstown battled back for two in the bottom half to force the extra innings, McDonald hit Colby Mavroulis' second pitch just inside the right-field foul pole for the game-winning run.

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And to top it off, the Suns had the tying run thrown out at the plate to end the game, as Jonathan Castro was gunned down trying to score from first on Robby Jacobsen's double to right field.

But maybe it shouldn't have come to that.

"I'm not upset about the last call," Suns manager Tommy Herr said. "It's a shame when things factor into a game that shouldn't. The condition of the field is so bad that we get a ground ball that bounces off a lip or something in front of the mound and our pitcher can't handle it. We couldn't handle a comebacker ... that's bad luck.

"We had good at-bats in the ninth to get the tie, but it shouldn't have come down to that if the call wasn't blown on the check swing."

Jake Blackwood started the ninth-inning saga with a leadoff single to left off Hagerstown reliever Aaron Jackson. With one out, Chris Hatcher hit a hot shot back to the mound that bounced off the front of Jackson's left shoulder and rolled away. If the ball was fielded, it could have started a game-ending double play.

Instead, Mavroulis replaced Jackson and walked pinch hitter Daniel Santin to load the bases. John Raynor followed with a two-run single to tie the game. After James Guerrero reached on an infield single to reload the bases, Adam Howard stroked a two-run single to right, with Raynor scoring just before Guerrero was thrown out going for third.

The Suns scrapped back, though, as Trevor Lawhorn led off with a double and Castro singled to chase Greensboro reliever Jay Buente. After Blake Jones came on to strike out Jacobsen, the rally was turned over to Michael Martinez.

With a 2-2 count, Martinez recoiled in an awkward motion on a slider that broke inside.

He pulled his bat to his chest, with home plate umpire Chris Seagal calling a check swing. Greensboro appealed the call and base umpire Brian Hertzog called the third strike.

The Suns dugout erupted and hitting coach Jerry Browne was ejected for arguing.

"Mike wasn't close to making a swing," Herr said. "There was the same type of swing in the sixth inning and it was called a check. It allowed them to score their first run and it cost us a run in the ninth. We should have never been in the 10th because it should have been our game."

Earlier, Suns reliever Yader Peralta was on the verge of getting out of a jam to preserve a 2-0 lead. He took over after starter Yunior Novoa loaded the bases and had Scott Cousins in a two-strike hole. On an inside pitch, Cousins was credited with a check swing.

On the next pitch he hit a sacrifice fly to get the Grasshoppers on the board.

"We get that strikeout, the next guy struck out followed by a groundout and they never score," Herr said.

The Suns got the tie in the ninth after the disputed call on an RBI single by Francisco Plasencia and a hard grounder to short by Marcos Cabral.

The Suns grabbed a 2-0 lead on RBI hits by Cabral in the third and Plasencia in the fifth. They took a 3-1 edge on a Lawhorn RBI double in the sixth.

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