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BlueClaws celebrate as Suns get to work

June 19, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

While the Lakewood BlueClaws were popping a little bubbly in their locker room, the Hagerstown Suns were still out on the field tending to some classroom activities.

The BlueClaws celebrated a first-half Northern Division title in the South Atlantic League with an 8-3 victory over the Suns on Thursday at Municipal Stadium.

While they celebrated, the Suns got some extra work on what manager Matt LeCroy termed "PFP."

"It's Pitchers' Fielding Practice," said LeCroy. "It's a teaching situation, and we've got to do it now and nip it in the bud."

In the top of the first inning, Lakewood's Anthony Gose sent a hopper to Suns first baseman Tyler Moore, who bobbled the ball.

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However, pitcher Marcos Frias was late getting to the bag to cover. Had he been there in time, he would have retired Gose on Moore's toss.

"Even if Moore doesn't bobble the ball, the pitcher needs to get to the bag," said LeCroy. "We need to find out (tonight) if the pitchers are hesitating or just not coming to the bag on a straight line. This has happened before."

Gose stole second and came around to score on Steve Susdorf's single for a 1-0 lead.

Travis Mattair walked to open the second and Jeremy Hamilton delivered his second homer of the year off the upper row of signs in right field. The BlueClaws added another run in the inning for a 4-0 lead.

Travis Reagan walked and Chris Curran singled to open Hagerstown's third inning and both eventually scored on a Lakewood throwing error and sacrifice fly by Moore.

Lakewood took a 5-2 lead in the top of the fifth as the inning marked the debut of Drew Storen, the Washington Nationals' second first-round pick in the recent Major League Baseball draft.

Storen's professional career had an inauspicious beginning.

Travis D'Arnaud greeted Storen with a monster home run that cleared the upper-level wall in center field -- a 420-foot shot.

Steve Susdorf followed with a single before Storen retired the BlueClaws without any further damage.

"I was excited, had some butterflies, but relieved to get in there," said Storen. "I left the pitch up and I can't do that with professional hitters."

"(Storen) was a little hyped up," said LeCroy. "After the homer, he came back and kept the ball down and showed a pretty good off-speed pitch."

LeCroy said current plans call for Storen to "get an inning of relief every other day or so."

The Suns scored in the bottom of the fifth to cut the gap to 5-3 on a sacrifice fly by Norris. But the BlueClaws put the game away with a run in the eighth and two in the ninth.

In front of 3,123 Thirsty Thursday fans, the game marked the Suns' only game at home in a span from June 14 to June 30. Hagerstown finishes the first half with five games in three days at Delmarva, catches a three-day All-Star break and then opens the second half with five games at Lake County before returning home June 30 against Kannapolis.

"We've played good in the first half," said LeCroy. "Not having alot of experience at the beginning of the year, I'm pretty happy with the first half."

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