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Wells, Suns swing past Delmarva

May 05, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

Vernon Wells accomplished more with one swing of the bat than the Hagerstown Suns were able to do all last Monday against the Delmarva Shorebirds.

One swing, one hit, one run and Wells and the Suns had found Matt Achilles' Achilles' heel.

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Wells clubbed a two-out solo home run to ignite a five-run, first-inning rally Monday, and the Suns hung on for a 5-4 victory against their arch nemesis of the South Atlantic League's Northern Division.

The early outburst was just enough for the Suns to avenge last Monday's no-hitter by Achilles (3-2). And it was just enough for Hagerstown (17-15) to earn a second straight win after losing nine of 12.

"Last week was a fluke," Wells said. "We came out and were aggressive. Last week, we hit some hard balls, but it was one of those things. That's baseball. I know he didn't want to face us again."

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Achilles was at a double disadvantage. Not only was he facing a vengeful Suns team, but he pitched without a number of Delmarva regulars. Nine Shorebird players were in Bowie, Md., playing in an exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles.

But Achilles set down the Suns' first two hitters before Wells. The center fielder, who has struggled through the early part of the season, turned on a 1-1 pitch and sent it down the left-field line for his fifth homer of the year.

"That home run was outstanding," Suns manager Marty Pevey said. "It was like us saying 'We're going now.' Lately, we haven't been scoring a lot of runs. I was happy that we maintained a rally with two outs and hit with runners in scoring position."

Bobby Cripps followed Wells' lead by legging out an infield single up the middle and scoring on Greg Morrison's double to the left field corner. After Josh Phelps walked, Billy Brown, Jesse Zepeda and Cesar Izturis added RBI singles to complete the 5-0 lead.

"Over there, our hitters weren't that aggressive," Pevey said. "Don't get me wrong, (Achilles) threw a great game. He was able to throw his curve and changeup for strikes when he was behind. Today, he wasn't able to do that in the first inning."

The rally gave Suns starter John Sneed (3-0) a big enough cushion despite struggling at times. He allowed a leadoff homer in the second to Chris Paxton and a two-run shot in the third to Luis Matos, who has driven in 11 of his 21 RBIs against Hagerstown.

Hagerstown clung to the lead on the combined outing by Sneed, Colin Brackeen and Woody Heath, the newest Suns' pitcher. Heath was promoted from extended spring training Monday and replaces reliever David Huggins on the roster.

Matt Weimer picked up the save despite a shaky ninth inning. Weimer retired the Shorebirds' first two batters before walking Mike Diaz and allowing singles to Matos and Tom McGee to cut the lead to one run. After walking Richard Paz to load the bases, Weimer got Darrin Hooper to ground to short to end the game.

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