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Gamecock to Sun, Buscher catching on

July 04, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Intimidation is a wasted word on Brian Buscher.

OK, so he started his first professional baseball game on Wednesday, which was the first time he ever used a wooden bat in competition.

Big deal. What's playing third base in Hagerstown after competing in the College World Series ... twice?

If the first game is any indication, the Hagerstown Suns might have problems keeping their new third baseman down on the minor league farm after his successful debut in a 5-2 win over the Lexington Legends.

"All I'm trying to do is come out here and win," Buscher said. "I'm just trying to help the team out."

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Good start.

Buscher, San Francisco's sixth pick during this year's amateur draft, carried over what he had been doing for the University of South Carolina to the Suns' infield.

It started with the very first play of the game. Lexington's Dustin Hawkins popped a foul toward the third-base dugout. Buscher, in his first game at Municipal Stadium, ran full speed to the play and slid on the warning track to catch the ball just short of making contact with the fence.

"I was hoping for that first one to come to me," Buscher said. "I was fortunate to be able to get over there and catch the ball."

He carried it over to his offense. He hit the first pitch he saw from Devern Hansack for an RBI double to ignite the Suns' three-run second inning.

Buscher came to the Suns three weeks removed from the College World Series. South Carolina was eliminated early from the tournament, but the time in Omaha, Neb., helped Buscher get ready for the next step in his baseball career.

"I was able to keep swinging the bat out there and I got to hit against live pitching," he said. "I didn't have a big layoff.

"Playing in the College World Series was a great experience. It helped me being there the year before because I got to know the field and I was ready to handle the crowds."

Even the transition from metal to wooden bats didn't ruffle Buscher's approach.

"It's something I have to adjust to," Buscher said. "The barrels of the bats are different sizes and I have to start learning to hit the ball the other way (opposite field).

"On defense, the ball doesn't come at you as hard when it's hit by a wooden bat, unless it's been hit pretty square. It's still a matter of field, mitt and throw."

Buscher finished his first night by lining a single down the left-field line to lead off the eighth inning, a hit that would have gone for extra bases if it hadn't been slowed by the wet grass. He scored the Suns' final run on Randy Walter's double.

Even at first glance, Hagerstown manager Mike Ramsey got the feeling his new third baseman could become a vital component of any Suns' run at winning the South Atlantic League Northern Division second-half title.

"He made a great defensive play and had some great at-bats for us," Ramsey said. "He stayed on the one pitch and took it the other way. It looks like he can add some thump to the middle of the lineup. I'm pretty happy with what he did tonight."

And if this is only the beginning, Brian Buscher has the chance to be the intimidating one.

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