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Controversy drives Wells batty

June 29, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

Cape Fear made Vernon Wells mad enough to hit something.

But instead of turning the Crocs into an endangered species, the Hagerstown Suns center fielder did the next best thing.

He took it out on the baseball.

--cont from sports--

Cape Fear spun the wheel with a piece of gamesmanship and it came up bankrupt Sunday as Wells slapped a key two-run single in the second en route to a two-hit, four-RBI game to lift the struggling Suns to a 10-6 victory before 4,102 fireworks fans at Municipal Stadium.

With the bases-loaded, two outs and a 5-3 lead, Cape Fear manager Luis Dorante complained that Wells was using an illegal bat, trying to disrupt rhythm of the inning.

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After a discussion centered on the make and emblem of the bat, an upset Wells agreed to switch lumber. Then he attacked Yovanny Lara's first pitch, sending a high-chop grounder through the left side of the infield for the game-tying hit.

"They aggravated me because that bat wasn't illegal," the soft-spoken Wells said. "I didn't see the need to be doing that. It was just fitting that I got the hit there."

It was probably more fitting than Wells would admit.

Lara (1-2) hit Greg Morrison with a pitch with the bases loaded to complete the Suns' second straight three-run inning for the 6-5 lead they never relinquished.

Hagerstown added a four-run fourth inning, highlighted by Mike Rodriguez's three-run double, to end its six-game losing streak. Rodriguez backed Wells with three hits and three RBIs to help the Suns make a statement.

"We tried to jump ahead of them early, but we got behind again," Rodriguez said. "But when they scored those four runs in the second and got ahead, I said they had better get more or otherwise they will be in trouble. We were due. We hadn't put together a good game together yet in the second half."

The 10-run outburst gave Suns starter Joe Casey (2-5) all the cushion he needed. He allowed a run in the first and was nicked for four more in the second - keyed by Kevin Hook's two-run single.

"I told Joe after the second inning that he had a 95-limit," Suns manager Marty Pevey said. "You are going to get all of your pitches. It's up to you if you want to give up five runs or 10 runs with them. I guess he didn't want to give up 10 runs."

Casey retired nine of the last 10 he faced before Brian Bowles and Jaron Seabury finished up. Bowles got out of a bases-loaded jam, striking out the side in the seventh.

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