Suns tie for first

August 17, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

Mike Strange isn't exactly a charity case, but he won't turn down any donations to his batting average.

So Strange was thankful for the contribution made by the Charleston Alley Cats on Sunday.

Strange took advantage of Charleston's soft defensive alignment to lay down a two-out, RBI bunt single to snap a 1-1 tie and lead the Hagerstown Suns to a 7-1 win over the Alley Cats and into a tie for the South Atlantic League Northern Division lead.

"We're finally getting back to the way we played in the first half," Strange said.

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The Suns (29-28, 73-54 overall) showed the signs of being a championship team once again with their sixth straight victory in a game that was much closer than the score. Strong pitching, timely hitting and stunning defense - including the second triple play in Suns' franchise history - moved Hagerstown even with idle Delmarva with 14 games left.


Leo Estrella (11-9) won his first game as a Sun in his third start since being traded to the Toronto organization on July 31. He only gave up a run in the first inning despite allowing Charleston's leadoff hitter to reach base in five of the seven innings he worked.

The biggest defensive boost came in the second when Sandro Garcia hit a hard grounder to third with no outs and runners on first and second. Jesse Zepeda scooped the ball and took one step to stomp on third base before unloading a the throw to second to start the 5-4-3 tri-killing, the first since April 15, 1997.

Hagerstown took the lead in the fourth against Jose Acevedo (8-8). Greg Morrison singled and took second on a wild pitch before scoring on Bobby Cripps' one-out ground-rule double to left. Cripps took third on Mike Young's groundout.

Strange stepped in the box and steered an Acevedo fastball halfway down the third-base line and legged out the single just ahead of Ryan Medrano's throw.

"I've been swinging such a hot stick lately, I wanted to make sure I got that ribby and hit," said Strange sarcastically about his .219 average and 10 RBIs. "I saw that he was playing back and called it myself to lay it down."

It was a move manager Marty Pevey applauded.

"I've been telling those guys who can run all year that with two outs and a runner on third, take a shot at the bunt," Pevey said. "If they are giving you an RBI, take it."

Tony Peters clubbed his ninth homer of the year in the seventh to give Hagerstown a 3-1 lead. The Suns salted the game away with a four-run eighth, keyed by a bases-loaded double by Cesar Izturis and a two-run single by Randy Albaral.

The Suns swept all 13 games they played against Charleston at Municipal Stadium this season.

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