Crocs display their top form

April 24, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

by Richard T. Meagher / staff photographer

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Crocs and Suns

Coaches and mothers warned the Hagerstown Suns.

There's going to be days like these.

Days like Thursday when three Cape Fear pitchers combining on a seven-hitter in shutting out the Suns 9-0 in the opening game of an early-season, four-game showdown between the top to teams in South Atlantic League's Northern Division at Municipal Stadium.

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Crocs starter Brian Matz, of Towson, Md., set the tone by allowing three hits over six innings in a game where Cape Fear did everything right to whisk away the Suns. Cape Fear pitching held Hagerstown to seven singles.


"(Matz) used his fastball well and worked us in and out," Hagerstown coach Marty Pevey said. "We had a couple of hard-hit balls against him, but he did a good job of keeping the hitters off balance."

Matz went one better. He gave the Crocs a leg up on the Suns in a series pitting two of the top records in the league. Hagerstown (13-8) has been off to a fast start, but entered the series trailing Cape Fear by four games in the standings.

The Crocs (18-3) opened the season by winning their first 15 games, but are 3-3 in their last six games. They gave the Suns an up-close look at their winning formula against Clayton Andrews (0-1).

"This was the kind of game where they just played good fundamental baseball," Pevey said. "They hit behind the runners, hit the sacrifice fly and did the things they needed to do the score the runs.

"We played good fundamental baseball, too. We didn't commit any errors defensively, but didn't get the hits we needed."

Andrews breezed through his first 1 2/3 innings until he walked Brian Schneider on a 3-2 pitch. Willie Orpeza followed with a single to left, before Scott Zech's shot up the middle that hit Andrews' glove and bounced to the hole at shortstop, allowing Schneider to score from second.

"Clayton was doing fine," Pevey said. "Then that three-hopper comes back at him with the shortstop filling in behind, but the natural reflex was to throw up his glove. That's a hard thing to talk yourself out of doing."

Cape Fear scored two more off Andrews in the fourth when Talmadge Nunnari singled and stole second before scoring on Karl Chatman's single to center. Chatman took second on a throw to the plate and third on a groundout before scoring on Orpeza's sacrifice fly to left for the 3-0 lead.

"We were still in the game when Clayton left," Pevey said. "We were down three runs, but what hurt us was the guys in the bullpen have to do the job. They have to come out with their game faces on and keep us in the game."

Schneider hit a three-run home run to right off Randy Eversgerd in the sixth. The Crocs closed the scoring with a three-run ninth against Tim Huff.

The Suns were led by Mike Young and Bobby Cripps, who had two hits each. Hagerstown loaded the bases in the ninth but failed to break the shutout.

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