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Munhall, Suns rally to crack BlueClaws

May 30, 2003|By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Brian Munhall was starting to feel like a stock on the Dow Jones Exchange.

"It's been a long road with a lot of ups and downs," Munhall said. "But for me, there have been a lot of downs."

Munhall's stock was on the upswing on Thursday, and it was like money in the Hagerstown Suns' pocket. The catcher went 3-for-3 with two RBI, including a seventh-inning sacrifice fly to score the winning run, to lead the Suns to a 7-5 win over the Lakewood BlueClaws.

Munhall had three singles, including a run-scoring hit in Hagerstown's four-run sixth, to become one of many heroes for the Suns.

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"Munhall had a huge game," Hagerstown manager Mike Ramsey said. "The three hits and the sacrifice was huge for us. It was one of those games when they got single runs a couple of times and you start thinking about getting it right tommorrow, but we got four runs and got it going."

Scott Munter (2-2) came on in relief of starter Merkin Valdez in the top of the sixth and escaped a bases-loaded situation to keep Hagerstown within three runs.

And Derin McMains hit the first pitch by reliever Zach Minor for a single to score Jake Wald with an important insurance run in the eighth.

"Munhall was key, but Munter got us out of a tough situation that could have put us down five, six runs. And McMains, he just knows to go after the first pitch. He knows the situation and what to do."

Hagerstown's four-run sixth ended Lakewood's Chinese water torture attack with the BlueClaw posting single-run innings in the second, fifth and sixth innings to take the lead, the seventh to regain a tie, and the eighth in an attempt to come back.

Two of Lakewood's runs came on a second-inning homer by Tracy Jones and an eighth-inning blast by Ryan Barthelemy.

The Suns (28-23) were stymied by Lakewood starter Cole Hamels for the first five innnings on only three hits.

Hagerstown broke through in the sixth by sending 10 hitters to the plate. The rally was ignited by Fred Lewis' one-out double to center and completed by Munhall's third single for a 4-3 lead.

Hagerstown broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh off Robbie Reid (0-1), the second of four Lakewood pitchers, on a fielder's choice by Carlos Sosa and Munhall's sacrifice fly to right.

"Finally ... Things are starting to go our way," Munhall said. "I'm starting to feel better up there. When you are winning, everyone has fun and picks everyone else up. You come out every night and you feel like you can win."

Matt Palmer recorded his 10th save after allowing Andre Marshall and Jeremy Isenhower to single before striking out the next two Lakewood batters and closing the game with G.G. Sato's grounder to second baseman Aaron Hornostaj.

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