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Suns' call to arms leaves GreenJackets stingless

August 02, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

As margins go, one run is all a team needs to win a game.

As errors go, teams can't make any when they only have one run.

The Hagerstown Suns were successful on both counts Friday.

A quartet of Hagerstown pitchers held Augusta to three hits and the defense was at its best - fronted by backstop Steve Holm - as the Suns scored a 1-0 victory over the GreenJackets for their sixth win in seven games.

Hagerstown managed one run, coming on Julian Benavidez's RBI double in the fourth inning, as the Suns used their trademarks of pitching and defense to hold on.

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"There was no margin for error today," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "We made all the plays today and we had to. It was a well-pitched game for both sides, but it says a lot about our pitching and our bullpen."

It started with Brian Stirm, who didn't have his best outing, but did what he needed to do to keep Augusta off the scoreboard. While Stirm scrapped to stay in the game, Holm provided what little margin of error he needed pull it off.

Stirm walked the GreenJackets' Micheal Goss and Hanley Ramirez to open the game, but both were ceremoniously dispensed of while making attempts to steal second on throws by Holm. Augusta followed with a Chad Spann single and another walk as its first four runners reached base without scoring.

"Stirm held them close for me and I was able to get a couple of clean shots at them," Holm said. "Today all started with the pitching. They only allowed three hits. They could have got two or three runs there, but Strim battled."

Ramsey praised Holm's play.

"Obviously those plays were huge," Ramsey said. "Three walks and a hit without a run was important as it turned out."

The Suns (55-52, 20-20) scored off Augusta starter Matt Thompson (2-1) as Kevin Kelly hit a one-out double and Brian Buscher walked before Benavidez doubled down the third-base line.

Stirm left after the fourth, and the bullpen took control.

Erick Threets pitched the fifth, allowing no runs or hits while walking two. Scott Munter added three clutch innings, setting down nine straight with two strikeouts.

Closer Matt Palmer struck out two in the ninth for his South Atlantic League-leading 25th save.

"Stirm struggled with his command but hung in there," Ramsey said. "He just ran out of pitches. The rest was on Munter's job. He held them when we needed him. He was outstanding with a good heavy sinker and put it in places where it was hard to hit."

The Suns needed a couple defensive gems to pull off the victory. Holm made an outstanding play on a Greg Stone bunt in the seventh, and Benavidez made a leaping grab at first base of Ramirez's liner to open the eighth.

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