Florence flourishes again

July 18, 2002|by AL DITZEL

Hagerstown Suns manager Mike Ramsey said he had hoped to get Branden Florence some rest during this homestand.

Instead of getting time off, the Suns designated hitter hit a walk-off homer Tuesday night and then followed with a two-hit, two-run homer, three-RBI afternoon Wednesday as Hagerstown defeated the Charleston (W.Va.) Alley Cats, 6-2.

"(Florence) probably needed some rest but I needed him in the lineup," Ramsey said. "He's got no weaknesses as a hitter. He's quick inside and he has some pop."

Florence, whose seventh homer of the season won Tuesday's game in the 10th, said he's almost always comfortable at the plate.


"I always feel good," he said. "I'm working hard at (pitch recognition) and trying to do what I can."

In his first at-bat Wednesday, Florence picked up Bryan Carter, who led off the Suns first inning with a double, with an RBI single to left field.

Hagerstown (7-20), which finished a season-long, 12-game homestand at 4-8, picked up two more runs off Alley Cats' starter Chris Mowday in the second inning. Tyler Von Schell walked and Scoop McDowell singled. Tomas Garrido moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Robbie Meyer's groundout scored Von Schell and Justin Knoedler followed with a two-out RBI single for a 3-0 Suns lead.

Meanwhile, Suns starter Brion Treadway (1-3) kept Charleston off the board.

"(Treadway) struggled some with his control," Ramsey said.

Indeed. Treadway walked the leadoff hitters in both the first and second innings and walked another batter in the third. Still, he kept Charleston off the board through five innings, recording five strikeouts.

Hagerstown's offense kept up the pressure. Florence's two-run homer in the fifth highlighted a three-run outburst giving Hagerstown a 6-0 lead.

"It was a curveball," Florence said of the pitch he hit over the left field wall. "I saw it coming, so I sat back and waited."

Kevin Alexander, who scored on Florence's homer, had doubled home Carter, who appears much more comfortable back in the leadoff spot.

So, with a 6-0 lead, Hagerstown seemed well on its way to a second straight win. But, Treadway faltered.

"Our starters have been giving us five good innings," Ramsey said. "But we seem to struggle after that."

Treadway allowed a single and then Mike Snyder's two-run homer in the sixth before giving way to Brian Burress. The left-hander went a strong 2 2/3 innings before the heat bothered his control. Then, Julio Pavon retired the only four batters he saw for his first save.

"Any win is a good win," Ramsey said. "It's important that we get a couple before we hit the road."

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