Birds fly the coop with split vs. Suns

April 19, 2001

Birds fly the coop with split vs. Suns



Lakewood BlueClaws

Robinson Tejada (0-1, 4.66)

at Hagerstown Suns

John Thomas (0-1, 11.37)

Time: 7

Radio: WHAG 1410

Elvis didn't leave the building fast enough for the Hagerstown Suns' tastes.

Delmarva's starting pitcher, Elvis Montilla, didn't wear sequins or eat fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, but he did find a way to leave the Suns all shook up.


Montilla recovered from a slow start and rode the benefits of two big Delmarva innings on Thursday to shut down Hagerstown on four hits in the Shorebirds' 10-1 rout to secure a split of the two teams four-game, home-and-home series.

"He got comfortable with the big lead and just relaxed and threw strikes," Suns manager Bill Hayes said. "You can't take anything away from him. We had favorable counts but didn't hit the ball hard ... we kept getting under it. It's a little tough when you spend such long periods in the field playing defense."

Delmarva used a three-run third against starter Kyle Gross, parlaying three walks, a hit batsman and Rick Elder's bloop single into a 3-1 lead. Later, Elder put the exclamation point on the Shorebirds' seven-run sixth with a monstrous three-run homer to right to add some emphasis on Delmarva's run of seven consecutive hits, mostly against reliever Mark Hills.

The Suns (7-7) took a 1-0 lead off Montilla in the first as Jason Ellison drew a leadoff walk, took second on Bryan Gann's grounder and scored on Deivi Santos' single to right.

From there, Montilla allowed single to Mark Walker and a walk in the second before mowing down 17 of the next 19 Suns batters, including 10 consecutive from the second through the fifth innings.

Meanwhile, Gross was strong through the first two innings, but hit the Twilight Zone again in the third.

Delmarva sent nine hitters to the plate in the third, scoring the three runs and leaving the bases loaded as Gross failed to get out of the inning. Besides Elder's RBI single to shallow right, Gross issued bases-loaded walks to John Kessick and Casey Saucke.

"The way I look at it, Gross threw darn good for two innings and then started pitching to the situation instead of just throwing pitches," Hayes said. "He's here to learn. He was overpowering for two innings."

Delmarva (9-5) punched out the Suns in the sixth as Hills endured baseball's version of the Chinese water torture - four consecutive singles through the shortstop hole to prolong the inning.

Kris Wilken kicked off the onslaught with a one-out double to left-center field before the four bleeding singles by Shayne Ridley, Emmanuel DelRosario, Mamon Tucker and Matt Riordan, the last three producing RBI. Elder followed with his fifth homer of the year.

Chris Jones came on for Hills and was touched for the seventh run in the inning as Delmarva sent 11 hitters to the plate.

Santos collected two of the Suns' four hits.

"When you get in games like this, you try to do damage control with your pitching and catching," Hayes said. "Hitting like they did gets contagious, but we didn't do much damage control."

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