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Suns kick away Cats, skid

July 10, 1998

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

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Hayes slides to secondBy BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer

Vernon Wells did it all for the Hagerstown Suns on Thursday.

He got key hits. He made pivotal defensive plays. But most of all, he cured the Suns of amnesia.

Hagerstown's center fielder jolted his team's memory with five hits, two RBIs and three defensive gems to lift the Suns to a 2-1 and 6-1 doubleheader sweep of the Charleston Alley Cats to end an eight-game losing streak.

--cont from sports--

"It's been odd," Wells said. "We've been playing well, but just have been finding a way to lose games. It was good to see balls flying all over the park today. It was like the first half all over again."

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The Suns (6-15, 50-41 overall) should remember the first half, the one where they rattled of a 17-2 streak in the final three weeks of the season to win the South Atlantic League's Northern Division title. That was the same half they were the top pitching and fourth best hitting team in the 14-team league.

But since the All-Star break, Hagerstown has suffered a memory loss, losing 14 of its last 15 games before Thursday. And nothing made the Suns feel more comfortable than playing the Alley Cats in a doubleheader at Municipal Stadium - especially since they've swept Charleston four times this season.

"We were more aggressive today," Suns manager Marty Pevey said. "It seemed like we strung some hits together. We were more aggressive on the bases - especially Randy Albaral - and Vernon came up with the big hits. This isn't a cure yet, but it's a Band-Aid."

The opener was the type of struggle that the Suns had been losing lately. Charleston (9-12, 34-56 overall) grabbed a 1-0 lead off starter Matt McClellan on Johnny Oliver's RBI single in the second inning and nursed it into the sixth.

Mike Young led off the sixth with a double to left off Alley Cats starter Brett Haring and scored on Chris Hayes' clutch two-out single to right to tie the game. Hayes fouled off a number of pitches before golfing the ankle-high pitch to the opposite field for the tie, which set the stage for Wells.

Wells, Toronto's No. 1 pick from the 1997 draft, saved the game with his arm in the seventh. With two outs and runners on first and second, Matt Weimer (5-4) came on and allowed Serafin Rodriguez to line a single to center. Wells got the ball on one bounce and fired it home to cut down Ryan Medrano at the plate on a great catch and tag by Josh Phelps.

"When I let it go, I didn't think I had a chance to get him," Wells said. "It just seemed to stop from where I was standing. Then it was there and we got him."

The Suns grabbed the game in the eighth as Young stroked another double to left and scored when Wells doubled to the wall in left center.

"When Mike hit his double, it excited me," Wells said. "Me and him are close, and when he got on, I got pumped."

In the nightcap, Isabel Giron (8-8) battled through a rough first inning where he faced seven batters - but allowed only one run on one hit, two walks, a hit batsman and Travis Copley's sacrifice fly.

The righthander then took control for the complete-game win, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out two.

The Suns tied the game in the first when Albaral was hit by Jacobo Sequea's pitch, stole second and scored on Wells' single.

Hagerstown showed more of its first-half style as it put the game away with a five-run fourth, started by Wells' one-out double. Singles by Greg Morrison and Cesar Izturis, a double by Hayes and Jesse Zepeda's safety squeeze bunt each drove in runs.

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