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Dean shuttles Suns to victory

May 31, 2000|By BOB PARASILITI

Aaron Dean pitched like he had to be somewhere.

He did.

"I have to go to pick up my girlfriend," the Hagerstown Suns pitcher said. "She's flying into Dulles from California tonight."

That wasn't the reason for Dean's effectiveness, but it was as good of an incentive as any. Especially since he mowed through the Cape Fear lineup with a five-hitter through eight innings Tuesday to lift the Suns to a 4-1 victory over the Crocs at Municipal Stadium.

Dean pitched like he was already on cruise control heading down I-270 with the way he handled the Cape Fear batting order. Throw in three Suns double plays, and the game was done in under two hours, long before Dean's girlfriend's plane was circling the runway.

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"Dean did a tremendous job," Suns manager Rolando Pino said. "He was spotting his fastball well, had good velocity and a good curve. It's tough to beat a pitcher when he's got location and can spot the fastball."

Dean didn't overpower the Crocs (25-25) with strikeouts - notching just four on the night - but he efficiently set down Cape Fear on flyouts and groundouts which kept the game moving along and the Suns' defense on its toes.

"I felt good," said Dean (6-1). "I was throwing strikes and able to go after them. In the fourth inning, I really got my curveball going and it kept them off balanced. My fielders did a good job for me. I threw a lot of strikes and anytime you do that, you have a chance to win."

After Dean, Hagerstown's defense was key. The Suns (25-27) pulled a strikeout-throw out double play in the third, a masterful around-the-infield twin killing to highlight the Cape Fear sixth and a inning-ending double play that shortstop Brandon Jackson fielded, stepped on first and made the throw to complete.

The biggest of the three was in the sixth with runners on first and third with no out and the Suns nursing a 4-0 lead. Wilken Ruan doubled down the left-field line and Joe Docen reached on a bunt single to put runners on the corners. Brandon Phillips hit a hot two-bounce grounder to Chris Weekly that started the classic 5-4-3 double play to take the two outs while conceding the run to Ruan and the Crocs.

"Our defense really helped out," Pino said. "The double play is big for a pitcher. The one started by Weekly, with the runners on first and third was big ... that was the key to the game."

Hagerstown scored three times in the first in their typical pesky fashion against and erratic Grant Dorn (2-4). The Suns sent eight hitters to the plate, starting with leadoff singles by Jaime Goudie and Jackson and a walk to Reed Johnson to load the bases.

Paul Chiaffredo drove in the first run with a swinging bunt grounder to third and Weekly cashed in with a two-run single to right.

The Suns made it 4-0 in the fifth and back-to-back doubles by Jackson and Johnson.

The rest was Dean, who only allowed the one run on five hits and one walk in his 93-pitch outing.

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