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The Gross anatomy - Hagerstown pitcher fights through for win

May 23, 2002|BY BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Kyle Gross toes the pitching rubber almost the same way The Great Wallenda uses a tightrope.

At times, pitching has been a high-wire act for the Hagerstown Suns starter, especially when the opposing team has base runners. Gross got used to working without a net on Wednesday.

Gross regained his balance from a pressurized second and third inning to fire a creditable six innings to put Hagerstown in position for a 6-2 victory over Kannapolis before a morning matinee crowd of 4,484 school children at the second Education Day at Municipal Stadium.

Gross allowed one run on four hits despite walking five and striking out six for his second straight strong start at home. He left with a 2-1 lead, before key hits by catcher Anthony Turco and designated hitter Keith Anderson gave the Suns (21-26) insurance runs to claim their third win in four games.

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The key to Gross' victory, though, came early in the game. The right hander battled out of a bases-loaded situation in the second and left two runners stranded in the third, allowing his only run in instances that became personal land mines in the past.

"It's like what we talked about earlier and last year," Gross said. "It just comes down to getting experience. I'm learning to separate my attention. If I think 100 percent on the runners, I lose the hitters and if I put all my attention on the hitters, the runners start taking bases. When a guy gets to third base, I start to relax because I know he's probably not going to steal home."

The Intimidators loaded the bases with none out in the second and managed only a Wally Rosa single for a 1-0 lead before Gross put out the fire. Kannapolis failed to capitalize on a pair of one out walks in the third.

"He was teetering, but he made some good pitches," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "It was a good outing for Kyle. He got through six innings and got out of some jams. I thought it was a good growth experience for him."

The Suns made sure it remained benificial for the starter with two runs in the third of Kannapolis starter Andrew Fryson (3-2). Kevin Alexander notched his second of four singles and Miguel Miranda reached on third baseman Eric Storey's bouncing throw on a sacrifice bunt before Branden Florence was hit by a pitch. Julian Benavidez cashed in with a two-out, two-run single for the 2-1 lead.

Turco gave Hagerstown a 3-1 lead in the sixth with a two-out bloop single to left to score Robbie Meyer, who led off the inning with a double, off reliever Mike Williams.

After Kannapolis scored a run off Daniel Padgett in the seventh, the Suns put the game away with three runs in the bottom of the inning.

Anderson capped the rally with a two-run double to right to give Hagerstown the four-run bulge.

"I thought Turco had a good game," Ramsey said. "He threw out a couple of runners, which was big. He didn't look good in his first couple of at-bats but he got the big hit for us. It wasn't a thing of beauty, but he's been getting some key hits when he's in there."

Suns Today: vs. Kannapolis

Time: 7Radio: WHAG 1410

Probable Starters:

Suns - Brian Burres (1-4, 6.64)

Kannapolis - Ryan Wing (3-4, 3.78)

Promotion: Thirsty Thursday, reduced-price beverages throughout the park

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