Friday, August 04, 2006

Baby Bombers Spun Out By Lowell, Fall Out of First

STATEN ISLAND, NY -It was a tough night all around for the Baby Bombers. In the debut game which marked a new rivalry against Red Sox Class A affiliate Lowell, they were spun around in an ugly 9-7 loss on Johnny Damon Haircut Night before 3,741 at Richmond County Ball Park Friday.

The loss dropped Staten Island (26-18) out of first place in the McNamara Division a game behind the red hot Cyclones who won their 12th straight over Tri-City 9-5.

The game took over three hours to play and for good reason. The teams combined for 16 runs on 21 hits with five errors, 11 walks (seven by SI pitchers), three hit batsmen, two wild pitches and a balk.

There also was one ejection when Staten Island manager Gaylen Pitts was tossed in the first inning for arguing with home plate umpire Jeremy Crowe over whether Paul Smyth touched home after tagging up from third on a Luis Esposito sac fly for the game's first run. After he scored, catcher Francisco Cervelli protested and tagged home plate but didn't get the call. After he and starter Edgar Soto further debated it, Soto stepped off the mound and tossed to Cervelli but their appeal was denied which sent Pitts out of the dugout to take up the discussion with Crowe. After a brief chat, the skipper headed back but then abruptly turned around and got into a heated argument with the crew chief before being given an early exit.

"It happened. I should never get kicked out of a game that early," Pitts lamented. "I didn't think I said enough to get kicked out but he thought different. I was just wanting him to make a call. He told [Cervelli] he's got to go back and tag [Smyth] but he's already in the dugout. Then he kind of changed it and said he didn't have to make a call."

The skipper must have known it would be a tough night because his ballclub wasn't sharp a day after a five hour bus trip home from Vermont. After the teams exchanged first inning runs, the Baby Bombers put up three in the second to go ahead 4-1. Shortstop Christopher Kunda tripled in Cervelli and right fielder Wilkins De La Rosa followed with an RBI single. He came around to score the third run on Lowell shortstop Luis Segovia's throwing error to first.

However, the lead evaporated in an ugly fifth which saw the Spinners plate three to tie it without a ball leaving the infield. After Soto walked the first two, he was replaced by Tyler Addison. After fanning Jonathan Still, the reliever ran into further trouble by walking Luis Esposito to load the bases. It got even tougher when he wasn't able to field a Reid Engel baltimore chopper cleanly and tossed late to home for an infield single which made it 4-2. With the bases still packed, he lost control by forcing in the next two runs on hit batsmen. Addison finally got out of it by getting Segovia to ground into a 3-2-3 double play.

A Cervelli RBI single and Kevin Smith sac fly in the bottom half put Staten Island back in front 6-4 but the wheels fell off in an even worse sixth which saw Lowell bat around for five runs off losing reliever Edgar Omana (0-1). A Smyth RBI triple and a Still runscoring single tied it. Two batters later, Engel singled to give the Spinners the lead. Omana then balked the runners over to second and third. Still scored on a Manuel Arambarris sac fly and Engel came around to score Lowell's fifth run on an errant Pino toss to first. Ironically, it took Cervelli throwing out Jorge Jiminez at second to end the lengthy frame. The damage was done.

"We didn't rise to the occasion," a disappointed Pitts added. "We had a lead and then go out and walk people and hit people. That's not pro baseball. That's not the way we play the game. We played pretty good for a month, month and a half. Had a decent trip, then stink out the joint."

Trailing 9-6 in their final at bat, Staten Island made it interesting when the first two batters reached on back-to-back singles by Mitch Hilligoss and Kyle Larsen. After Seth Fortenberry struckout swinging, Lowell closer Terry Large uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Hilligoss to score cutting it to two. But with the tying run at the plate, Cervelli flew out to left and Smith grounded out to end it, allowing Large to escape with a two inning save and snap Lowell's (21-22) five-game losing skid.

"It didn't look like we were ready to get after it tonight," Pitts pointed out and took responsibility. "Didn't pitch good enough. Didn't play good enough. Give the other team credit...They should be ready to play when they go out there. Tonight I didn't think we were."

Notes: The loss snapped a two-game win streak. ... On Johnny Damon Haircut Night, some fans got their hair trimmed similar to the Yankee centerfielder as part of a free promotion. At least they didn't cough up any dough. ... Lowell reliever Jean Guillen tossed a scoreless two thirds to improve to 4-1. ... With two more hits, S.I. SS Hilligoss raised his average to .346. He entered Friday third in hitting behind Lowell's Aaron Bates and Zachary Daeges. NY-Penn League leader Bates (.360) had the night off while Daeges was hitless in two at bats to drop into a second place tie with Hilligoss. ... The three-game series continues tonight at St. George with a 7 PM start.

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