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Suns open second act at home

June 26, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

In that two-act play known as the South Atlantic League season, the Hagerstown Suns earned critical acclaim in a starring role.

Their efforts depicting a darkhorse contender becoming champion probably wouldn't win a Tony, but it would definitely take a Marty.

--cont from sports--

Manager Marty Pevey directed an award-winning 12-week saga which had enough twists and turns, plots and subplots and drama and suspense for three seasons. The surprise ending? Hagerstown comes from 10 1/2 games back to win the Northern Division title.

So, the question is ... What do the Suns do for an encore when they open the second-half's home season tonight against Cape Fear?

"I don't see us doing anything different," Pevey said. "We're just going to try to play straight baseball and eliminate mistakes."

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It doesn't sound thrilling, but it just might work - especially if the Suns keep winning.

The second half began like a mirror image of its predecessor. Hagerstown began both halves with eight-game road trips.

In the season-opening series in Columbus, Ga., the Suns won three of four games. In the second-half openers in Hickory, N.C., Hagerstown took three of four.

The Suns came home 5-3 on the first trip, adding to Pevey's confidence in the team on this go-around despite being victims of a four-game sweep at Delmarva.

"I don't mind playing on the road," Pevey said. "It doesn't bother me one bit. The guys have jelled and play well together, so it doesn't matter where we play."

How the Suns play has been a different story.

Hagerstown came off the three-day All-Star break and dropped an 8-0 decision to Hickory in the second-half opener. Then after bouncing back to win the last three games of that set, the Suns got smoked 11-0 in the opener of a four-game set at Delmarva.

When they are on, the Suns are lethal. When they are off their game, the Suns are vulnerable.

"It's not that easy to get going again after three days off. We got beat 8-0 in the first game, so that should tell you something," Pevey said. "It's not easy to turn your game on and off. We have to work on keeping things as even keel has possible."

Hagerstown has fed off its pitching staff, which is rated the best in the South Atlantic League. The offense is beginning to assert it self, as Vernon Wells, Greg Morrison, Josh Phelps and Lorenzo Bagley all begin to find their groove.

The Suns starting lineup has seven hitters who each have driven in at least 30 runs on a team which is nearly invincible when it plays at home.

Municipal Stadium has been a graveyard for SAL opponents - with the exception of Cape Fear. The Suns were 29-6 (.829) at home in the first half, including 2-4 against the Crocs. Eliminate Cape Fear and the Suns were 27-2 (.931) at home against the rest of the league.

"We just have to play good baseball," Pevey said. "Like I said, we can't go turn it on and off, so I don't expect us to do nothing less than play good baseball."

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