Extra innings prove unkind to Stars again

Saturday, June 21, 2008
For The Times

Huntsville can't pull off rally in 13th as Jaxx win 8-7

The Huntsville Stars were down one manager, two all-stars and five runs Friday night, but none of that beat them.

Instead, they lost 8-7 to West Tenn in 13 innings because they couldn't execute the little things like bunting runners over, getting guys home from third, fielding and getting the inning's leadoff hitter out at the most crucial time.

Omar Aguilar walked Mark Kiger to lead off the 13th, and he came around to score when Stars shortstop Alcides Escobar threw wildly to first trying to complete an inning-ending double play.

Then in the bottom half, Huntsville's Michael Bell led off with an infield single off West Tenn's regular left fielder Brent Johnson, who was in to pitch. Escobar struck out, Angel Salome lined out to deep center, and after two walks, Chris Errecart flew out to center to end a game that went 41/2 hours, and featured 27 hits and seven errors.

"Just a flat-out bad game all around," Stars manager Don Money said. "We couldn't execute bunts, couldn't get runners home from third. That's why you lose."

After West Tenn took a one-run lead into the bottom of the 11th, Salome ripped an RBI single up the middle to knock home Bell and tie the game with two outs. For Salome, it was his third hit and third RBI of the night.

The Stars also got a stellar effort from relievers Patrick Ryan and Joe Bateman (seven innings, two runs). They had an opportunity to win the game when Errecart led off the 12th with a single, but Freddy Parejo bunted into a double play - his second failed attempt to move a runner over in three innings.

Salome's single kept the Stars clawing back like they had all night, despite being without their two top run-producers.

Southern League batting leader Mat Gamel went home before the game sick with a stomach virus, and league home run leader Matt LaPorta left the team to be with his ailing grandfather. Money said LaPorta is expected to be back with the team when it opens the series in Carolina on Tuesday.

Early in Friday's game, the Stars fell way behind and it looked like they were in for a long night.

First, they lost Money in the fourth inning after home plate umpire Craig Barron awarded Diamond Jaxx catcher Adam Moore first base, saying he was hit by a pitch. Money was thrown out of the game for the second time this year after asking what the call was and hearing that Moore was hit.

Money said Barron told him there was a black mark on the ball where it hit Moore, but when Money examined the ball, he said there was no mark. Money then got tossed arguing with Barron about the lack of a black mark.

"I said, 'Show me where the black mark is,' " Money said. "He told me I was making a spectacle, and I said, 'So what?' and he tossed me."

After the argument, West Tenn went on for a four-run fourth off Brae Wright, and by then, the Jaxx held a 5-0 advantage. The Stars didn't quit.

Instead, they started chipping away, scoring two in the bottom of the inning after Salome's two-out double was followed by Cole Gillespie's RBI bloop double that fell between the shortstop, left fielder and center fielder. Then, Carlos Corporan knocked in Gillespie - who was celebrating his 24th birthday - with a single.

The Stars added two more in the fifth with some more clutch two-out hits. This time, Bell singled home Parejo, and then Salome ripped another single to close the gap to 5-4. Immediately afterward, Moore belted a solo homer off Ryan in the top of the sixth for a two-run advantage, but the Stars rallied for two more in the bottom half.

© 2008 The Huntsville Times. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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