Whoever scores first wins

April 29, 1999|By BOB PARASILITI

Suns break 0-0 tie with run in 14th

Just one look is all it FINALLY took.

It was a wayward glance that put Hagerstown base runner Jorge Nunez in motion and set the Suns free in a Businessperson's lunch special that turned into an appetizer for dinner.

Nunez manufactured a run in the bottom of the 14th inning - highlighted by stealing third base off pitcher Chris Zallie - and scored on Juan Nieves' one-out single to left Thursday to give the Suns a 1-0 victory over the Augusta GreenJackets at Municipal Stadium.

The 14th inning was an island of execution in an ocean of missed opportunities. Hagerstown (14-7) did everything right three times in a row to break through.


"This was just one of those games that no one hit," Suns manager Rolando Pino said. "The pitchers overpowered the hitters. The pitching was outstanding."

Nunez used his feet to make up for all the problems Hagerstown had with the bats. The Suns had 11 hits but left 11 runners on base. With the win, the Suns swept the four-game set and won for the ninth time in their last 11 games.

After surviving five straight innings of Augusta having its leadoff man reach base, Nunez decided to take the game on his own feet.

"I was getting tired," Nunez said with the help of Felipe Lopez. "Today's payday. I just wanted to win and get out of there."

Nunez slapped Chris Zallie's first pitch up the middle for a single and took second when Matt Logan, one of the Suns' power-hitting left-handed bats, laid down a sacrifice bunt.

"I haven't been in the situation to do that too often," Logan said. "Once he got on, I knew that's what I would be doing. It was just a matter of getting it down."

Nunez didn't stay at second for long. After Zallie's first pitch to Nieves, he darted for third and easily stole his 12th base of the season.

"I got the sign to go," Nunez said. "I watched the pitcher and noticed that he would only look at me once and then go to the plate. On the second pitch, he looked and I went."

Pino was confident to take a chance with Nunez with one out. He makes it, it's the game. He doesn't, it's none on and two out.

"I usually give them the green light to steal third if I think they have a shot," Pino said. "This time, on the first pitch, he got a good read on the pitcher. I've had him before and I know he does a good job stealing third against left-handed pitchers."

Nieves swatted Zallie's next pitch to left over the drawn in infield to end the game.

"I just had to put it in play," Nieves said. "I was looking for a fastball that I could hit deep over the outfielder's heads. I missed the first one, but I got the second one."

The run made a winner of Eric Place (3-0), the Suns' fourth pitcher of the game. Lost in the shuffle was a splendid nine-inning performance by starter Taylor Smith, who allowed only two hits and retired the last 19 batters he faced in his 101-pitch outing. Brian Bowles got out of two bases-loaded situations in extra innings to keep Hagerstown alive.

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