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Sneed strikes for record

August 21, 1998|By CURT HORNBECKER / Staff Correspondent

Butterflies would normally be no match for the 6-foot-6, 240-pound John Sneed.

But the fluttering in the stomach of the Hagerstown Suns pitcher didn't subside until the last out of the game.

Despite his case of the jitters, Sneed (15-2) held Macon to just one run on three hits in 6 2/3 innings Thursday night, but narrowly escaped with the win. A win which set the Suns franchise record for most wins in a season.

The Hagerstown bullpen gave up three runs in the eighth, but held on as the Suns (32-29) notched their ninth win in 10 games, 5-4, before 1,523 fans at Municipal Stadium.

"I heard the rumor, but I hadn't looked it up myself," said Sneed of his record-setting victory. "It feels great, but I was nervous. I was more nervous than I think I've ever been. Marty (Pevey, Hagerstown's manager) and I usually share a bottle of Rolaids, but I took the last three tonight."

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Sneed, who also recorded 12 strikeouts to tie him for the South Atlantic League lead with 201, got some help from an unlikely source. With a 4-1 advantage, Cesar Izturis provided the difference in the game with his first home run of the year, a solo shot over the right-field wall.

"I knew he was going to throw me a fastball," said the Suns' shortstop, "and I just hit the ball and ran hard. Then, as I rounded first base, I started laughing. It felt real good; I was very surprised."

Suns relievers Colin Brackeen and Jaron Seabury loaded the bases twice and gave up three runs in the eighth to close the gap to 5-4 and let Sneed start sweating.

In the ninth, Seabury easily retired the first two hitters, but Marcus Giles - who leads the league with 35 homers - sent a drive to deep center field which was finally corralled by Vernon Wells at the wall to secure the win, and Seabury's 17th save of the season.

"I figured (Giles) was due," said Sneed. "Then (as the ball sailed toward the wall) I figured that was it. But Vernon's played great defense all year, and he came through again."

After Macon took a 1-0 lead in the second, Bobby Cripps tied it with his 29th homer of the season in the bottom of the inning. Cripps plated two more runs in the third with a two-out single, moving to second on the throw to the plate, and scored on a Wells single for a 4-1 lead.

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