Suns weather storm, Shorebirds

April 23, 1999|By BOB PARASILITI

Municipal Stadium was more suited for duck hunting than baseball on Friday.

The Hagerstown Suns did everything but wear bright orange. Instead of shooting for the wall, the Suns picked off a couple of quail.

Hagerstown's long ball offense was retired for the day, thanks to a strong wind blowing in from left field. So the Suns used a ground attack more to the liking of manager Rolando Pino, third baseman Jesse Zepeda and pitcher Taylor Smith to grab a quick-frozen 5-1 victory from the Delmarva Shorebirds.

It was wet, cold, raw and extremely windy ... Ernie Banks would have wanted to bag two instead of play 'em. But in a twisted sort of way, the conditions played right into the hands of the Hagerstown trio.


Pino was able to force the aggressive style of play he likes to use. Zepeda didn't have to power the ball, just slap it through in driving home the game-winning run. And Taylor, overcame the elements and used them to the advantage, forcing Delmarva to hit ground ball after ground ball through the first six innings for his second win.

"I tried to do all I could to get us going," Pino said. "The weather has a way of doing that. I think we have a little bit of everything, but we aren't playing the way we should be yet."

Still, it was good enough to earn a third straight win and raise the Suns record to 10-6.

Hagerstown broke open a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning, using errors, walks and slap singles to its advantage.

Matt Logan reached on an infield single and moved to second when Tyler Thompson drew a walk off Delmarva starter John Stephens (1-3). Zepeda drove in Logan by slapping a single to center to give Smith (2-0) all he needed to win.

"Days like this, you just want to make contact," said Zepeda, who drove in three runs in the Suns' win on Thursday. "You don't want to hit the ball in the air today ... with it being wet, that makes the ball tough to throw."

Thompson scored from second when Delmarva right fielder Ashanti Davison dropped Juan Nieves' fly to right, but managed to get the force on Zepeda at second, giving the Suns a 3-1 lead.

Smith continued his mastery on the mound in his second straight outing in cold, windy conditions. The Shorebirds bled the right hander for seven singles, but only managed one third-inning run on Matt Purkiss' two-out single.

"It's tough to pitch here," Smith said. "It's tough to stay warm, but I've always been a ground ball pitcher. Everything I throw seems to go into the ground. I have to give some props to my fielders because they are making the plays."

Smith went six innings, allowing one run on seven hits with two strikeouts. He has walked only one batter in 23 2/3 innings this season.

The Suns got the tying run in the third as Justin Davies battled with two strikes and two outs for a single to left to score Nieves.

Hagerstown escaped problems in the seventh to preserve the win. Eric Place walked the bases loaded with two outs, but struck out Craig Daedlow to end the threat.

The Suns padded their lead with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Nieves drove in Thompson with a three-base error on a ball misplayed by Ntema Ndugidi. Jorge Nunez hit a two-out double in the eighth and scored on a Jay Gibbons single.

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