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Suns shine, win first after break

June 18, 2003

LAKEWOOD, N.J. - The Hagerstown Suns may have given an early indication that they mean business in the second half of the South Atlantic League season.

The Suns went with their strengths - pitching and situational hitting - to trip Lakewood 3-0 Tuesday to start the Northern Division's second half with a victory.

Merkin Valdez led four Suns pitchers in a one-hit shutout while Derin McMains and Brian Munhall provided the punch with run-scoring doubles for the Suns (1-0, 36-32).

Valdez (4-3) went six innings, allowing the BlueClaws' only hit, while striking out four. Brian Roberson laid a bunt single down the third-base line with one out in the third for Lakewood's hit.

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Scott Munter, Josh Habel and Matt Palmer also pitched for Hagerstown. The Suns squirmed out of tight situations in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings before Palmer nailed down his 14th save.

The quartet combined on the Suns' ninth shutout of the season and dropped the team's ERA to 3.04.

The Suns took a 2-0 lead in the third as Munhall and Fred Lewis singled before Munhall was thrown out at the plate on Jake Wald's safety squeeze attempt. But McMains followed with a two-run double to the left-field corner.

Hagerstown picked up an insurance run by starting a rally with two outs in the fourth. Kevin Kelly and Randy Walter singled, setting the table for Munhall's RBI double.

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