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Suns' Morrison cleans up

August 30, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

Greg Morrison had a little trouble grasping the concept of being the No. 4 hitter in the Hagerstown Suns' batting order, but considering Saturday's results, who cares?

The first baseman was supposed to be the cleanup hitter, but the Suns benefited because Morrison was a litterbug.

Morrison went 4-for-4 with a walk - falling a home run short of the cycle - to score four runs and drive in two others to help lead the Suns to a 12-3 shellacking of the Delmarva Shorebirds at Municipal Stadium.

"It's been months since I've hit in the cleanup slot," Morrison said. "I didn't hit for much power, just for hits. It's good to know that I was getting on and the guys behind me were cashing in."

The Suns profited in a big way off Morrison's two singles, a double and a triple as Lorenzo Bagley and Vernon Wells each drove him in twice to batter four Shorebirds' pitchers.

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The 17-hit display left the Suns (37-33, 81-59 overall) one game behind the Shorebirds in the South Atlantic League Northern Division's second-half race with today's game remaining. A victory could give the Suns a division title sweep, but the team's playoff future is still in doubt.

Still, it was a show of explosive offense on the final fireworks night of the season. Mike Young's first-inning at-bat lit the fuse for the Suns.

Hagerstown trailed 1-0 heading into the bottom half of the first. After Tony Peters led off with a single, Young locked into a battle with Delmarva's Brandon Huntsman (7-6), working him to a 3-2 count while fouling off seven pitches.

Young won the battle, and perhaps the war, sending Huntsman's 11th pitch over the left field wall for a two-run homer - his 14th - and a 2-1 lead.

"Every pitch I fouled off was a fastball," Young said. "I knew with a full count and a man on, there was no way he was going to walk me."

Morrison walked and took third on Bagley's double before Wells hit a shot off Huntsman's foot. Morrison beat the throw to the plate for a 3-1 lead.

Hagerstown scored in six of the eight innings. Chris Hayes unloaded a two-run blast, his seventh, in the sixth inning. Morrison doubled in the third, singled in the fifth and tripled in the sixth and scored each time as the Suns ran out to a 10-3 lead.

The cycle was on the line with two on in the eighth, but Morrison laced a two-run single up the middle.

"It was on my mind and I was going for it, but I wasn't," Morrison said. "I just stayed back and tried to hit one up the middle."

Woody Heath (11-3) picked up the win with 3 2/3 innings of one-run, two-hit relief after starter Joe Young failed to get out of the fifth inning.

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