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Another losing season, but Chiefs hold heads high

— It has been a long, hot season for the Syracuse Chiefs. Literally. The Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals must’ve played four-dozen games in 90-degree weather or worse.

While the heat wave lingered, the Chiefs’ bats often went cold, and the pitching proved inconsistent. New skipper Tony Beasley arrived in town with an impressive winning record over his six-years as a minor-league manager, but — unless the team wins seven of its final nine games — 2012 will not be among his winning seasons.

Playoffs out of reach

So for the 14th year in a row the Chiefs fail to make the IL playoffs. Syracuse baseball fans are understandably disappointed, but the ball club and its coaches have good reasons to hold their heads high.

The Chiefs lead the league in sacrifice bunts and double plays — often overlooked but crucial offensive and defensive accomplishments. The hurlers, overseen by pitching coach Greg Booker, lead the league with the fewest walks allowed, and the staff has tossed a respectable 12 shutouts. At mid-season, Syracuse boasted three IL All-Stars — starter Zach Duke, slugger Corey Brown and scrappy rookie infielder Jim Negrych.

Even off the field, the ball club hit figurative home runs at Alliance Bank Stadium with an impressive new 55x30 foot video scoreboard and a new concessionaire serving the meatiest and juiciest burgers you’ve ever eaten at a ballpark.

Nationals nurtured

But even more importantly, the Chiefs have nurtured more than a half-dozen talented players who are now fueling the Washington Nationals’ run toward the major-league post-season. Guys like Bryce Harper, Tyler Moore and Jhonatan Solano are up there now helping to hold down the lead in the National League East.

Major-league rehabbers such as speedy reliever Henry Rodriguez, former Yankees sinkerballer Chien-Ming Wang and power-hitters Jayson Werth and Chad Tracy also honed their games here in the Salt City. And team HR leader Corey Brown and pitchers John Lannan and Atahualpa Severino enjoyed cups of coffee in D.C. this summer and can expect to be promoted again after major-league rosters expand Sept. 1.

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