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White-hot Suns batter Crocs

June 07, 1999|By BOB PARASILITI

Scott Cassidy got the chance to use the unwritten rule of the Hagerstown Suns pitching staff on Monday.

"When you see all those runs on the board, you make sure you get through the fifth inning to get the win." Cassidy said.

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It's a good philosophy, especially considering the way the Suns have been playing. Hagerstown gave Cassidy a 10-0 lead by the fifth inning, while he pitched a two-hitter through the first six innings en route to a 11-4 victory over Cape Fear.

With the win, the Suns (41-18) took another giant step to clinching the South Atlantic League's Northern Division first-half title. Hagerstown's sixth win in seven games, coupled with Cape Fear's loss, dropped the Suns' magic number to two.

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A victory tonight guarantees Hagerstown no worse that a tie for the title and a playoff spot with 14 games remaining in the half.

"We swung the bats real well today," Suns manager Rolando Pino said. "The team is just playing real well right now. Cassidy gave us another great game pitching and everyone is taking turns contributing."

Hagerstown scored five runs in the third and fourth innings against Cape Fear starter Shane Arthurs (3-4). Arthurs, who entered the game allowing just nine earned runs this season with a 1.80 earned run average, left the game with a 3.53 ERA.

The Suns were unstoppable, going 11-for-17 (.647) in the two innings, batting around each time.

Orlando Hudson drove in four runs and Jesse Zepeda, making a rare start at second because of a slight knee injury to shortstop Felipe Lopez, added three RBIs.

"We found a lot of holes and had some see-eye hits," Pino said. "But we hit some balls hard, too. Everyone has been picking each other up, but the last four games we have had great pitching."

Five straight, if you count Cassidy's outing last Wednesday against Delmarva. The right-hander had a no-hitter for 4 1/3 innings before an hour-long rain delay ended his day, two outs short of a win.

"I got a chance to finish what I couldn't the last time," Cassidy said. "But I lost the no-hitter with the first batter this time."

Albenis Machado led off the game with a single but was erased in one of four double plays the Suns turned to end the inning. Cassidy faced a minimum of 18 hitters through the first six innings.

"I'm still throwing strikes and allowing hitters to put the ball in play, but I seemed to be able to keep my focus better lately," Cassidy said. "I've been getting a lot of double plays behind me, so that helps, too."

Cassidy lost his shutout by allowing three runs (two unearned) in the seventh, two scoring on Josh McKinley's double. Cape Fear got its other run off Tom LaRosa in the eighth.

Everyone in the Suns lineup had at least one hit.

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