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Hagerstown wins duel for Suns

Pannone survives first-inning jitters, pitches Hagerstown to win

Pannone survives first-inning jitters, pitches Hagerstown to win

May 20, 2002

bobp@herald-mail.com

Anthony Pannone admits there's one thing he really wants to see when he starts a game for the Hagerstown Suns.

It's the second inning.

If the right-hander can get out to the mound for a second time unscathed, smooth sailing is usually ahead.

With the help of a first-inning double play, Pannone got off the mark quickly Sunday and locked into a pitchers' duel with Lakewood's Ezequiel Astacio. Eight innings and only four hits later, Pannone led the Suns to a 4-3 win over the BlueClaws.

"I get first-inning jitters," Pannone said, wiping his face from a shaving cream attack that went with being the most sought after interview of the day. "I get stronger as the game goes on. I pride myself on it. If I can get out of the first inning with no hits or runs, I start to relax."

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The Suns (19-24) bounced back from an awful 11-0 Saturday performance with some strong defense early. After Pannone allowed Wes Carroll to reach on a single he coaxed a grounder to second baseman Kevin Alexander which turned into a double play.

With jitters gone, Pannone (3-2) was able to follow his gameplan.

"I just want to hold the other team to three runs or less to give us a chance," he said. "We know we can hit the ball. Sometimes you get down when you are down by a lot of runs. I just want to keep it close so they can have a chance."

He did the trick by allowing a single run in the sixth inning on the four hits while walking one and striking out three.

Tyler Von Schell hit a home run down the left field line - into the teeth of a strong incoming win - in the fourth inning to give the Suns a 1-0 lead against Astacio. Lakewood (22-21) used back-to-back two-out doubles by Rod Perry and Carroll to tie the game in the sixth.

Pannone kept the Suns in the game through the eighth, only allowing one runner past second base.

"I was able to move the ball in and out," Pannone said. "Once you are able to get inside, they start looking for it and it makes the outside pitch more effective."

The Suns broke through with three runs in the eighth off reliever Matt Squires (3-3), starting with a leadoff home run to right field by Alexander, his second of the season. Alexander has hit the ball hard against Lakewood pitching in all seven of his at-bats, resulting in four hits.

"I've been seeing the well and picking it up well out of the pitcher's hand," Alexander said. "That home run was all me - there was no wind involved in it. I hit it well."

Branden Florence and Julian Benavidez each drew walks and Robbie Meyer collected his fourth single of the game to load the bases. Catcher Anthony Turco responded with a two-out, two-run single to left for a 4-1 lead.

"We played well," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "When you get a good quality start a lot of good things can happen. Anthony has been giving us some quality starts. Turco had that big hit in the eighth, which was the key to the game, and Alexander has been stinging the ball lately and has earned him some playing time."

Ryan Meaux recorded his sixth save but came within inches of missing the opportunity. Gonzalez drew a one-out walk and took second on Andre Marshall's two-out single. Jeff Phelps followed with a two-run double off the right center field wall that was a foot left of being a home run to cut the deficit to one. Daniel Tosca grounded to Alexander to end the game.

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