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Suns blister GreenJackets

April 26, 1999|By BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns got by a major bump in the road with the help of a little bump on a finger.

It was smooth sailing for Augusta GreenJackets ace Justin Duchscherer, as he cruised along, setting Suns in his wake. It took a little friction to do what Hagerstown's bats failed to accomplish.

[cont. from sports page]

Duchscherer was forced to leave the game with a 2-0 lead after five innings because of a blister on his pitching hand. It opened the door to the Augusta bullpen, which allowed four runs in the eighth inning for a 4-2 victory Monday at Municipal Stadium.

"I guess you have to call us the Kardiac Kids or something," Suns designated hitter Jay Gibbons said. "We keep doing this. We finally got a few guys on base and made something happen. We didn't have many hits, but we picked it up in the end."

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Gibbons hit a game-tying, two-run double off reliever Matthew Phillips (0-1), Augusta's third pitcher, and Matt Logan stroked a one-out RBI single to score the winning run after the Suns struggled to just three hits through the first seven innings.

Duchscherer entered the game with a 2-0 record and a 0.43 earned run average and a .143 opposing batting average. He allowed only three hits to drop his ERA nine points, but couldn't get past the fifth because of the blister.

Duchscherer got the Suns (11-7) to fly out for seven of the 15 outs he recorded.

"The first guy just kept pick, pick, picking at the corners and he had a nice hook (curveball)," Logan said. "He did a good job. He threw the ball low and usually we go with the pitches, but everyone was trying to pull him."

Duchscherer wiggled out of a bases-loaded situation in the third, and first reliever Alejandro Lontayo set Hagerstown down in order in his two innings until the eighth.

"We had a quick team meeting after the fifth inning," Suns manager Rolando Pino said. "I told them that they have to start going with the pitches instead of trying to pull the ball. We kept getting underneath the ball."

With two on and one out, Gibbons laced an opposite field double down the third-base line off Phillips' 3-1 pitch to tie the game.

"I was looking for something in the middle of the plate away," Gibbons said. "But he surprised me and threw me something in. I just had an inside-out swing. I'll take what I can get."

After Orlando Hudson was intentionally walked, Logan followed with his single up the middle. With two outs, Juan Nieves drew a bases-loaded walk off Chris Zallie for the final run.

"We didn't have many hits and we were a little lackadaisical, but we pulled it out," Logan said. "(Starting pitcher Pasqual) Coco threw well and I'm sorry we didn't get him the win, but we showed we can pull out games like this."

Coco matched Duchscherer but allowed a run in the third on a two-out triple by T Brown and single by Angel Santos and a leadoff home run by Jeffrey Key in the fourth. He went seven innings before Brian Bowles (1-1) and closer Jarrod Kingery finished the game off.

"You have to give their first guy credit," Pino said. "He didn't give us many scoring chances. But you have to give our pitchers and our defense credit. Coco pitched outstanding and so did Bowles and Kingery. We just finally got some guy in scoring position and made it count."

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