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Change does Suns good

May 24, 2002|BY BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

There was something different about Julian Benavidez and Brian Buress on Thursday.

Benavidez took a different approach at the plate, while Buress took a different menu of pitches to the mound to change their fortunes for the Hagerstown Suns.

Benavidez's more relaxed batting attitude helped the third baseman come through in a pair of bases-loaded situations - including a fifth-inning grand slam - to drive in five runs while Buress took command for six innings in a 8-2 win over Kannapolis.

"I just tried to take a positive mind into the game," Benavidez said. "I haven't been having a very comfortable swing the last couple of games. I wanted to relax and have confidence. I told myself that it's still early in the season and not to pressure myself."

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The Suns (22-26) put all the pressure on Kannapolis early with a three-run first inning off starter Ryan Wing (3-5) to close the homestand with a 4-2 mark. It provided a good starting point for Burres.

"I felt pretty good after I got them in order in the first inning," Buress said. "And then the offense got me three runs in the first inning and it really helped."

But it might have been a call by Suns manager Mike Ramsey and pitching coach Ross Grimsley which helped push Burres over the hump.

"He changed speeds well with his pitches and used his changeup more," Ramsey said.

"We took his slider away from him - he's only using the fastball, curve and change - so he had to use his change more."

Burres' circle-change kept Kannapolis off balance as he allowed one unearned run on three hits while striking out four.

Wing's first seven pitches were balls in the first inning allowing Kevin Alexander and Julio Cordido to lead off the game with walks. After Branden Florence hit an RBI single, Tyler Von Schell walked to load the bases for Benavidez's run-scoring fly to center. Mark walker drove in the third run.

Kannapolis got to Burres with Mike Morse's RBI groundout after a fielding error by Florence in left.

The Suns loaded the bases to chase Wing in the fifth as Leonel Cabera and Alexander singled and Von Schell drew a two-out walk. Julio Castro came on to serve up the decisive grand slam to Benavidez.

"I was watching (Castro) warm up while I was on deck and he wasn't getting his slider over," Benavidez said. "I figured he would get to two strikes and try to get me to chase it. I guessed right and he left it up. The first time, I was just trying to get the job done for the team. The second time, I was trying to make things happen."

Suns Today: at Lakewood

Time: 6:35 Radio: WHAG 1410

Probable Starters:

Suns - Anthony Pannone (3-2, 3.75)

BlueClaws - Ezequiel Astacio (1-1, 2.09)

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