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Suns left tipping their cap to 'Claws pitching

June 24, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

Plain old courtesy is one of the hardest things to learn in baseball.

Usually when someone is being courteous, it means they lost.

Hagerstown Suns manager Darnell Coles was forced to be courteous on Monday.

That's because Lakewood's pitching kept the Suns off the scoreboard until the ninth inning and did just enough to score a 2-1 victory before an announced face-feeding crowd of 1,149 in Hagerstown's second-half home opener.

"Sometimes you just have to tip your cap," Coles said. "The game was played well. We just fell a little short."

It dropped the Suns to 3-2 in the second half and 37-37 overall.

It was a pitchers' duel between Lakewood's Darren Byrd and Hagerstown's Erik Arnesen, who locked into a tightly-played scoreless game for five innings.

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The duel ended prematurely when a 35-minute rain delay finished the night for both.

Byrd hog-tied the Suns on two hits over six innings through intermittent showers until the big storm hit.

Meanwhile, Arnesen (6-2) continued to make his transition from reliever to starter but left the game after going 6 2/3 innings before the rain. He fell victim to a run manufactured by the BlueClaws in the sixth and was saddled with the other run when reliever Dan Leatherman allowed a hit to Travis Mattair, the first batter after the delay.

"(Arnesen) does a good job," Coles said. "He throw strikes and works both sides of the plate. He meets with the catchers before the game and knows what he wants to do. He executed his plan, he just fell short."

Lakewood (3-2, 41-34) broke through in the sixth as Freddy Galvis led off with a single and moved to second on Joel Naughton's sacrifice bunt. He checked into third on Derrick Mitchell's single to left before scoring on Dennis Winn's sacrifice fly.

The BlueClaws' seventh inning would have been a lot worse for the Suns if not for right fielder Michael Burgess.

Burgess gunned down two Lakewood runners in the inning trying to turn singles into doubles, turning a four-hit inning into a one-run rally for the BlueClaws.

In between, Mike Durant bounced a double off the center-field wall, right before the second out and the rain. Mattair's eventual single to left made the score 2-0.

Lakewood turned the ball over to Sergio Escolana, who continued to keep the Suns on their heels into the eighth inning before giving way to closer Jared Simon with two outs.

The Suns averted the shutout and nearly forged a tie in the ninth, which started with Aaron Seuss' one-out single to right before he took second on a passed ball. Sean Rooney followed suit with another single to right for the RBI.

Tim Pahuta prolonged the game by reaching on Durant's fielding error at first, moving Rooney to third. But Mark Gildea flew out to center to end the game.

"We've been hitting the ball well lately," Coles said. "Sometimes, you are just going to run into pitching like that."

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