Suns get Taylor-made win

June 16, 1999

Suns vs. Alley CatsBy BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

Taylor Smith got the chance to get back to an old familiar place because Jose Umbria survived in a new unfamiliar one.

Smith's place is on the mound for the Hagerstown Suns and pitching - late in games, like he did in April but not in May. For Umbria, his place is behind home plate, until Wednesday.

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Umbria, a catcher, was called on to play third base for the first time in two years in the seventh inning. He responded with a big defensive play before igniting the offense as the Suns broke a scoreless tie and take a 2-0 victory over the Charleston Alley Cats on Smith's complete game, two-hit shutout.


"I was surprised I was there," Umbria said. "I was out in the bullpen and they yelled to me to come in and play third. I said 'Why me?' I didn't have a third base glove, so I borrowed (Felipe Lopez's)."

Umbria got the call when Lopez was pulled from the game by manager Rolando Pino for disciplinary reasons. Lopez had anchored the Suns' defense until then, starting two of four double plays to keep Smith out of trouble.

"When Jose went in, I didn't know what to expect," Smith said. "Then he made the good play."

Umbria's other contribution came in the eighth against Charleston reliever Monty Ward. With one out and Jorge Nunez at first, Umbria hit a shot down the right-field line that David DiPace allowed to tick off his glove for a two-base error.

It allowed Jay Gibbons rolled a single up the middle for his South Atlantic League-leading 66th RBI to break the 0-0 tie. Orlando Hudson followed with a fielder's choice to give Smith all the support he needed.

It all worked to help Smith's comeback from May mayhem with his third straight strong outing after a 1-2 record and 7.45 ERA last month. He went nine innings, allowing five walks while striking out eight to give him a 0.82 ERA in June.

"I'm not doing anything different," Smith said. "I just struggled and got hit a lot. The last couple of times out, I got my two-seamer working and they have been hitting them for outs."

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