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Hagerstown strikes early on Heath's birthday

August 20, 1998|By CURT HORNBECKER / Staff Correspondent

Macon Braves manager Brian Snitker might have been better off starting a reliever Wednesday night against the Hagerstown Suns.

The Macon bullpen held Hagerstown hitless through the last five innings, allowing just two base runners, while the Suns pitching staff was struggling.

But the nine runs Hagerstown scored against Braves starter Joey Nation (6-11) was enough for a 9-6 South Atlantic League win before 1,352 fans at Municipal Stadium.

Delmarva's 2-1 win over Columbus, however, keeps the Suns (75-55) one game out of first place for the second half.

Lorenzo Bagley unexpectedly provided the key blow, a long, three-run home run - his 14th of the season - to cap a six-run third inning and give the Suns a 9-3 lead.

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"I figured we were going to score some more runs," said the Hagerstown right fielder. "I was just trying to get a base hit. I was looking for a fast ball out over the plate, and just tried to get it, and not jam myself."

Hagerstown starter Woody Heath (10-3), celebrating his 22nd birthday, was nicked for four runs and 11 hits in five innings of work, but still managed to get the win with the help of four Hagerstown double plays.

"Woody didn't have his best stuff tonight," said Suns manager Marty Pevey. "He left the ball in the middle of the plate, but you have to tip your hat to him. When he got in trouble he was able to get a key double play or strikeout, and he got us into the sixth inning, which was important, because our bullpen is tired."

The Suns' bats certainly weren't tired early in the game. Tony Peters clouted Nation's first pitch for a home run, followed by a Mike Young double. A Chris Hayes bunt single moved Young to third, before a wild pitch scored Young and moved Hayes to second. Bobby Cripps' fly to right advanced Hayes to third, with Vernon Wells' single giving the Suns a 3-0 lead.

Two Braves singles, a pair of doubles and a sacrifice fly tied the score at three in the second before Hagerstown exploded for six runs in the third.

Young reached on a one-out error and scored on Hayes' double, while Cripps followed with his 28th homer of the year. Bagley's three-run blast came after a walk to Wells and a Greg Morrison single.

Macon scored single runs in the sixth, seventh and ninth on solo homers by Troy Cameron and Jason Hairston, and a Mark Burke RBI RBI double.

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