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Suns flunk pop quiz, fall to BlueClaws on Education Day

April 24, 2008|By Bob Parasiliti

The Hagerstown Suns continue to have their ups and downs.

On Tuesday, everything they hit was down on the ground. On Wednesday morning, it was up in the air.

The end result in both games was the same - the Suns struggled offensively and lost a game to the Lakewood BlueClaws. This time, the Suns managed just four hits in a 4-1 loss before an Education Day crowd of 2,385 at Municipal Stadium.

Lakewood starter Drew Naylor baffled the Suns with six innings of two-hit pitching. The right-hander, who the Suns handled the first time they faced him in Lakewood, got Hagerstown to pop up on 10 of the 18 outs recorded. Another six came on strikeouts.

"He throws a little harder," Suns manager Darnell Coles said. "He throws like 93-94 (mph) and when you do that consistently and you have a good breaking ball, sometimes it has guys getting out front a little."

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Education Day was just another day of schooling for the Suns.

It was another day when Hagerstown (8-12) fell behind early and hurt its own cause by leaving runners in scoring position.

The Suns had a chance to take the early lead on Naylor in the first. Francisco Plasencia drew a leadoff walk, stole second and moved to third when Dan Lyons reached on a fielding error by Lakewood third baseman Dennis Winn.

However, Michael Burgess and Aaron Seuss were each retired on foul pops, and Tim Pahuta grounded to first as the Suns came up empty.

"We had our chances early," Coles said.

That left Suns starter Colten Willems out on the mound without a safety net. Willems battled Naylor, but made a couple of mistakes that hurt.

The first was Karl Bolt's line-drive homer over the wall in left-center field with two outs in the second inning to give the BlueClaws a 1-0 lead. It was the second straight game Lakewood took the lead with a solo homer to start the scoring. Herman Demmink hit a home run off Cole Kimball's fourth pitch of the game on Tuesday in Lakewood's 10-3 win.

Lakewood added single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

Willems issued one-out walks to Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor and Michael Durant singled to load the bases before Bolt lofted a sacrifice fly to left to make it 2-0 in the fourth.

Lakewood jumped to a 3-0 edge in the fifth when Joel Naughten - who went 4-for-4 on the day - hit a one-out double to right and came home on Derrick Mitchell's two-out single up the middle.

Meanwhile, the Suns managed only two singles off Naylor - both coming in he third. With one out, Stephen Englund reached, and Seuss followed with a hit with two outs, putting runners on first and third. Pahuta flied out to end the threat.

"Getting on top first is a distinct advantage," Coles said. "You can't run. Things are different when you can put runners in motion. They just got on top early and kept adding on."

James Lehman came on in relief of Willems in the sixth for his first appearance since joining the Suns. He allowed three singles - the third was a looper to left by Bolt to score Brown from second for the 4-0 lead.

Lehman left the game after the next batter, Winn, grounded a ball off his pitching hand.

The Suns scored an unearned run in the seventh inning when Englund reached against reliever Chris Kossock on a throwing error by Winn. Jake Smolinski doubled and Englund scored when Mitchell dropped the relay throw from the outfield.

The Suns began to mount a threat in the eighth but Lakewood brought on closer Jared Simon for a four-out save to close out the game and win the series.

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