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Arata anchors Suns' run to beat BlueClaws to tape

April 20, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

Nick Arata approaches hitting a baseball as if it were a relay race.

"Basically, you want to pass the bat on to the next guy," said the Hagerstown Suns infielder. "It there is a guy in scoring position, you want to get him in. If there is a guy on base, you want to move him up. You want to make it as easy as possible for the next guy."

Like most good hitters -- and lead relay runners -- Arata made his passes with the lead on Sunday. Arata had three hits and drove in four runs, including the game-winner with an eighth-inning single -- to lift the Suns to a 5-4 win over Lakewood at Municipal Stadium.

Arata reached base all five times, scoring Hagerstown's first run and driving in the final four. He was hit by a pitch and scored to put the Suns in a 1-1 tie before walking in the third. He followed with a critical RBI double in the fifth and a two-run single in the sixth before collecting the winning hit to break Hagerstown's three-game losing streak.

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"You get up there and you just don't want to let the team down," Arata said.

It seemed to be Arata's day. He batted out of the leadoff slot and was in position to make things easier for the Suns each time.

Catcher Sandy Leon started the rally with a one-out single to left off Esmelvin Jiminez (0-1) and moved to second when pinch hitter Steven Souza walked. It set the stage for Arata's clutch single to left.

"(Arata's) been swinging the bat well," said Suns manager Matt LeCroy. "He has been working on getting his shoulders square. He has got a chance to play because (shortstop Jose) Lozada has been hurt."

Arata's final single broke a 4-4 tie and made a winner of Carlos Peralta (2-1), who worked 1 1/3 innings of relief. Osvaldo Rodriguez picked up the save with a one-hit ninth.

Lakewood (6-5) took a 1-0 lead in the first as Anthony Gose singled off Suns starter Marcos Frias and stole second and third before scoring on Travis d'Arnaud's sacrifice fly.

Hagerstown (5-5) tied the score in the bottom half of the inning when Arata led off by being hit by Tyler Cloyd's pitch. He stole second and scored on Derek Norris' double.

The BlueClaws took a 3-1 lead in the fifth on a RBI triple to right by Harold Garcia and a RBI single by Gose. Arata answered with his RBI double that painted the left-field line to score Chris Curran to cut the deficit to one.

Lakewood went up 4-2 in the seventh when Garcia scored when Peralta uncorked a wild pitch with the bases loaded. Arata tied the score with a two-out, two-run single to left in the seventh before winning the game in the eighth.

"We've been scraping and trying to keep in ball games," LeCroy said. "Today, we got big hits. We are the type of team that has to work to stay in games and, if we can do that, I'm pretty confident that we have the team that will pull them out most of the time."

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