Suns' Walter makes believers of Alley Cats

June 28, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

No matter what Randy Walter tried on Friday, the Charleston Alley Cats wouldn't take him seriously.

OK, so the Hagerstown Suns outfielder doubled and scored in the sixth inning. Then, Walter whacked a hard grounder to third that resulted in two unearned runs and tied the score at 4-4 in the seventh.

But the Alley Cats couldn't get it through their helmets. That's probably what led to Walter's RBI single to left in the ninth to score Julian Benavidez with the winning run in a 5-4 come-from-behind Suns victory.

"I haven't hit very well against their team," Walter said after a 2-for-4 night with two RBI. "I only had two hits in 12 at-bats against them going in. They played the strategy and the strategy backfired. ... It feels good."


It was the completion of a night that had the Suns (39-35, 4-3) collect only four hits and still score just enough to pull out the victory. It was Hagerstown's 27th one-run game of the season, but only its 13th win.

"What we expect is to go out there and not get blown out," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "We've had good pitching all year, so we have to think if we score four runs in a game, we have a chance to win every night. We aren't going to do it, but we have a chance."

The Suns fell behind 3-1, before using the three rallies keyed by Walter.

Walter led off the sixth with a ground-rule double off Charleston starter Eric Stephenson. He took third on Mikey Miranda's grounder and scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 3-2.

After the Alley Cats scored in the top of the seventh, Walter triggered a quirky chain of events to tie the game. Jason Columbus walked and Benavidez singled to lead off the seventh and chase Stephenson in favor of Ramon Mora.

Brian Munhall greeted Mora by laying down a sacrifice bunt that the pitcher misplayed for an error to load the bases. With one out, Walter hit a smash that third baseman Scott Dragicevich dived to field and threw to second for a force while Columbus scored.

Munhall's slide into second prevented the double play, but when first baseman Zeph Zinsman saw Benavidez round third, he threw to catcher John Schneider. Schneider saw Benavidez slip while he scrambled back to third, but unloaded a throw down the left-field line that allowed the tying run to score.

"My mentality is to try and make something happen," Walter said. "When you're behind, you have to pull back the throttle, but when you're ahead, I try to be as aggressive as I can."

The Suns snatched the win in the ninth off Felix Romero. Benavidez, who hit a solo homer to get the Suns on the board in the second, drew a one-out walk and took second on a Munhall groundout. The Alley Cats elected to intentionally walk Kevin Kelly, who was 0-for-3, to set up the force and face Walter.

Walter took three straight balls and a strike before fouling off a pitch. He ended the game with a sharp single down the third-base line.

Troy Ransom, the Suns third pitcher, earned the victory with a scoreless ninth inning, thanks in part to Erick Threets' ability to squirm out of a bases-loaded situation in the seventh.

"That could have got ugly, but Threets came back and pitched," Ramsey said. "It was a nice comeback for us. We only got four hits and got some help to score a couple of runs, but we got the clutch hits when we needed them."

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