Suns' Waddell still spells 'relief'

July 16, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

Jason Waddell's habits are hard to break.

Even though the Hagerstown Suns reliever got the call to be a spot starter, he still provided a huge relief to the Suns.

Waddell gave the Suns everything they needed and more with five innings of one-hit pitching Tuesday to pace Hagerstown to a 3-2 victory over Lake County in the first game of an afternoon doubleheader. Hagerstown's defense broke down in the nightcap in a 6-5 loss.

The loss only went to magnify Waddell's performance.

"That was huge," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "We were short a starter, so you go and choose a guy from the bullpen and we chose him. Still, you never know what you are going to get. It was his first start and you hope to get three innings out of him. The fact he went five was huge."


Waddell (1-2) allowed a one-out single to Micah Schilling in the first inning, the only hit he'd allow. He got Ben Francisco to ground into a double play to end the inning, starting a string in which he retired 13 straight Captains.

"This was only the third time I have ever started as a professional," Waddell said. "I treated it like I was coming in in relief. I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes and get the job done."

Waddell treated the assignment as a usual day, right down to his pre-game preparation.

"I only took 10 pitches and I was ready to go," he said.

The Suns (48-43, 13-11), who have been struggling offensively, scratched out three runs in the first to give Waddell all the support he needed.

Fred Lewis led off the game by reaching safely on a throwing error from Schilling at second before singles by Jake Wald and Carlos Sosa loaded the bases. Julian Benavidez singled and Kevin Alexander grounded into a fielder's choice, erasing Benavidez, to score the first two runs.

The Suns picked up their third run when Brian Buscher's grounder to first baseman Brian Kirby caused some indecision, allowing all runners to reach safely.

It was Hagerstown's last hit of the game, but Waddell docked the Captains with only 49 pitches in the five innings.

"He was around the plate and did what he needed to do," Ramsey said. "They came back against us, but we still squeaked it out."

Bill Sadler came on in relief in the sixth and allowed a leadoff home run to Kirby in the seventh. Matt Palmer replaced Sadler and was greeted with a solo shot by Eric Johnson to cut the lead to one run.

Palmer struck out the side around loading the bases to earn his 22nd save.

In the second game, Lake County starter Carlos De La Cruz and Hagerstown's Brad Hennessey (1-4) each struggled. Both gave up three runs in the second inning while battling for survival.

Hennessey allowed four hits in the top of the inning, highlighted by Bryan Kent's two-run double and Jon Van Every's run-scoring single. The Suns countered with Mikey Miranda's RBI groundout and Lewis' two-run double.

Hagerstown took a 5-3 lead in the third on Steve Holm's two-run single before the defense and pitching - Hagerstown's two strong points - broke down.

Lake County got within a run in the fourth with the help of a throwing error by Buscher at third. Kent picked up the RBI with a sacrifice fly.

The bottom fell out in the fifth as Hennessey allowed Chris De La Cruz to single and walked Schilling before Francisco reached and drove in the tying run on Miranda's fielding error. Scott Munter came on only to load the bases before uncorking a wild pitch while striking out Johnson to allow Francisco to score the winning run.

The Suns loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, but Sosa struck out and Benavidez popped to short against Todd Pennington to end the threat.

"The second game was ugly," Ramsey said. "We did a lot of things that we don't normally do. It's a disappointment, but we have seen that that much this year. All in all, it was a win-one, lose-one day and we can't afford to do that."

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