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Suns sweep doubleheader, close gap

June 11, 1998|By CURT HORNBECKER / Staff Correspondent

The Hagerstown Suns were in an awkward position.

Winning both ends of Wednesday night's doubleheader against Charleston was a must for the Suns in order to remain in the first-half pennant race in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division. But the Alley Cats host Cape Fear, the team the Suns are chasing, in the final four games of the half.

"We'll see if we can get (Cape Fear) for you," said Charleston manager Barry Lyons to Marty Pevey, the Hagerstown boss, before boarding the bus for the ride home after watching the Suns complete the sweep, 2-0 and 3-1. "By the way, can I borrow three or four of your hitters?"

Cape Fear has dropped 11 of its last 14 games, but needs to win three of the last four - if Hagerstown can sweep its four-game set against Asheville - to clinch the title.

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With the pitching performances Hagerstown received in the twinbill, it might be able to afford the loan. Isabel Giron lowered his league-leading ERA to 1.90 with a four-hit, complete game shutout in the opener, while Woody Heath, John Casey and Jaron Seabury combined for a two-hit effort in the nightcap.

"Our starters have been getting us into the sixth inning consistently," said Suns pitching coach Hector Barrios. "Once we get to that point, we have two guys in (Matt) Weimer and Seabury that we're confident can close it out for us."

Confidence is one thing the Suns (40-26) have not been lacking over the last two weeks, winning 13 or their last 15 games.

"We're all pumped up," said Suns catcher and designated hitter Bobby Cripps, whose two-run triple in the third inning of the second game broke a scoreless tie. "We're going to go all out for it. We want to finish in first place."

While Giron (6-5) was shutting down the Alley Cats in the opener, throwing just 63 pitches over seven innings, Lorenzo Bagley supplied the necessary offense with a second inning solo home run, his seventh of the season, and fourth in three games for a 1-0 lead. And it was Bagley who scored the second run of the game, singling to open the fifth before a Josh Phelps RBI double.

A two-out, third-inning Hagerstown rally handed Heath (4-0) the early lead when Mike Young reached on an error and moved the third on a Vernon Wells single, before Cripps triple down the rightfield line.

A hit batter, a single and a fielder's choice in the second pulled Charleston (23-43) to within one. But Casey and Seabury closed it out, retiring all six hitters they faced.

Tony Peters, a late-inning defensive replacement for the Suns, singled to score Bagley win an insurance run in the sixth.

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