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Closer preserves Suns win

April 15, 2001

Closer preserves Suns win



By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

The pressure was on Jackson Markert and was building like a shaken can of soda sitting in the sun.

The Hagerstown Suns closer had worked himself in to a bases-loaded situation with none out in the ninth while trying to protect a two-run lead. Suddenly, the crack of Tony Sutter's bat sounded like a pull-tab release.

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Sutter's sharp grounder turned into a much-needed double play grounder, allowing Markert to regain his form Sunday and preserve a 3-2 victory over the Greensboro Bats at Municipal Stadium and salvage a split in the home-opening four-game series.

"Once we got the double play, everything started to fall into place," said Markert, who earned his third save of the season. "After the double play, if felt confident I could get the last out."

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Amazing how a little thing like a double play can change a pitcher's outlook. Markert got David Fowler to fly out to center on his first pitch to end the game and leave Elvis Corporan stranded on third with the tying run.

"I was just hoping for a ground ball, but then I got to 3-1 count," Markert said. "The ball was hard hit, but everything turned out all right."

It sealed a solid, more aggressive offensive effort by the Suns (5-5) and strong pitching by starter John Thomas and reliever Wes Faust.

Hagerstown took a new approach to the game and tried to force the issue against Greensboro starter Jason Anderson. The Suns got their leadoff hitter on base in six of eight innings, three of which scored. Add to it six stolen bases and a number of attempts at hit-and-run plays and it became obvious Hagerstown was trying to jump start its lagging offense.

"Both clubs played pretty well, but we put the ball in play and got a couple of things to happen," Suns manager Bill Hayes said. "We were trying to open things up ... we haven't got much so far."

Hagerstown leadoff hitter Jason Ellison had a hand in all three Suns runs. He led off the game with a walk and moved around the bases before scoring on Dan Trumble's two-out single to left.

The Suns broke a 1-1 tie in the second after Mark Walker singled and took second on Trey Lunsford's walk before advancing on a double steal. Ellison hit a grounder off Deivi Mendez for an error to plate the run.

Ellison hit another ball off of Mendez to bring home Lunsford, who led off the fourth with a walk, to give Hagerstown a 3-1 lead in the sixth. The Suns finished with eight hits, all singles, and left 10 runners on base.

Thomas bounced back from a 15-1 loss to Lexington last week to go four innings allowing a run on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Faust (1-0) picked up the win with four innings of two-hit relief with two strikeouts.

"There was a lot of pressure out there with the bases loaded and none out," Hayes said. "It was a good game for us, but the tone was set by Thomas. He was more relaxed and got his pitches over. Faust just did a great job."

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