Eighth straight has Suns in title hunt

June 13, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

Lately, when the Hagerstown Suns are dealing, opponents beware. The deck is stacked against you.

The Suns played two aces with a full house of hitting to flush the Asheville Tourists in a 8-1 and 3-0 doubleheader sweep Friday at Municipal Stadium.

Asheville had trouble anteing up against the streaking Suns, who won their eighth straight game and moved within one game of the South Atlantic League's Northern Division lead. Starters Clayton Andrews and John Sneed, along with closer Jaron Seabury, combined to allow one run on seven hits in 14 innings to make the Tourists feel like unwelcomed guests.

"Those two guys completely shut them down," Suns pitching coach Hector Berrios said. "It was lights out pitching."

It continued the three-week roll the Suns (42-26) have enjoyed. Hagerstown is 15-2 since Memorial Day, making up 9 1/2 games on the division-leading Crocs. Cape Fear was rained out in Charleston (W.Va.), forcing a doubleheader today. The Suns have two games and Cape Fear must play three to protect the one-game lead.


Andrews (5-4) allowed a run in the first inning on a leadoff walk to Jerome Alviso, who scored on Carlos Vidal's one-out double to right. After that, Suns pitchers fired 13 shutout innings.

"They did a great job ... everyone did," Suns manager Marty Pevey said. "After the game, the fans in the stands were saying to me 'Wow, they pitched well.' For the fans to notice and say that, that's something."

The Suns supported Andrews with two runs in third and fourth innings and a four-run fifth. Josh Phelps drove in four runs with a two-run homer in the fourth and a two-run double in the fifth to pace the 11-attack, which allowed Andrews to relax and drop his ERA to 2.05.

"After the first inning, I was wondering," Andrews said. "I gave up the leadoff walk, and like usual, it came back to hurt me. But then I came back and focused on hitting my spots. Later, I started to tire, but then I knew what I had to do. I just relaxed and settled down."

Andrews, who finished with eight strikeouts to give him 109 for the season, walked two Tourists in the fourth, but wiggled out of problems by starting a double play.

Greg Morrison had two hits and drove in two runs in the opener.

Sneed (8-1) got all the runs he needed in the first as the Suns loaded the bases and scored on a wild pitch, Bobby Cripps' groundout and a Morrison single. Sneed outlasted two threats and struck out 11 in six innings of three-hit work.

"I struggled early with my control, but here we go again. I got three runs early and I was able to relax," Sneed said. "Today just showed how good this staff can be and when you combine the pitching with the hitting, it's outstanding."

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