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'Dads teach Suns a lesson

April 10, 2010|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Hagerstown's Justin Bloxom (23) is out at second base as Hickory shortstop Leury Garcia throws to first base to complete a double play in the second inning Friday night.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- Matt LeCroy now has Exhibit B to display as he makes a case for the Hagerstown Suns.

After Thursday's win, the Suns manager said, "If we pitch and play defense, we always have a chance."

On Friday, Hagerstown didn't prove him wrong. The Suns struggled in the fourth inning, allowing three runs with the help of two walks, and two errors compounded their problems in other innings as they fell 7-2 to Hickory before 748 fans at Municipal Stadium.

Hagerstown starter Josh Smoker took the first hit when a third-inning error threw him off stride by setting up an unearned run. Then he lost the strike zone in the fourth, issuing two walks before Matt West launched a three-run homer over the wall in left-center for a 4-1 lead.

"Smoker was mixing his pitches well," LeCroy said. "Then he gave up the two walks and then the bomb. You can't walk six guys and then not make the plays defensively and still win. I liked (Thursday's game) better."

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Daniel Rosenbaum was in total control in Thursday's season opener, when he allowed two bunt hits and one walk while striking out seven in a rain-shortened 1-0 victory.

On Friday, Suns pitchers struck out 14. It was the outs in between that took Hagerstown down.

Hickory jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third as Ed Koncel drew a one-out walk and took third on Edwin Garcia's hit-and-run single to left. Hagerstown's J.P. Ramirez threw wildly to third to allow Koncel to score.

The Suns tied the game in the bottom of the inning against Hickory starter Robbie Ross. Marcus Jones singled and took second when right fielder Miguel Velazquez misplayed the ball. Jones scored on Sandy Leon's single.

Smoker issued walks to Vinny DiFazio and Cristian Santana to open the fourth before West's homer.

"I thought Smoker was getting caught up in the strikeouts," LeCroy said. "He pitched well and will be all right because he goes out and works hard."

The Suns had a chance to tie the game in the fourth with runners on first and third before Jones hit into an inning-ending double play.

The Crawdads greeted Suns reliever Colton Willems with an unearned run, as a Steven Souza fielding error set up DiFazio's RBI double for a 5-1 lead.

The Suns got a run back in the seventh when Jones doubled off reliever Branden Tullis and scored when Eury Perez singled off the first-base bag.

The Crawdads closed the scoring with two runs in the eighth on doubles by Santana, Mike Ortiz and Koncel.

Smoker (0-1) lasted four innings, allowing three earned runs on two hits while walking three and striking out seven. Willems also went four innings, allowing three runs on four hits.

Ross (1-0) was the first of five Crawdads pitchers, lasting five innings and allowing one unearned run on five hits.

Perez and Jones led the Suns with two hits each in a game that proved LeCroy's claim of the way Hagerstown needs to play.

"We have to play solid defense and not walk anyone to win," he said.

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