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GreenJackets head out of town with another 'W'

August 05, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

Enough has been seen of the Augusta GreenJackets. Let 'em go back home and play some golf.

For the second straight outing, Augusta put plenty of lumber to the rawhide and spanked the Hagerstown Suns 7-2 on Monday night in the South Atlantic League.

After allowing 10 runs Sunday, the Suns rolled out the departure mat for the once-struggling GreenJackets, now 12-30 in the second half. It was the first time since late April the Suns' pitching staff was raked for more than seven runs in back-to-back games.

The Suns (56-54, 21-22) still remain in the thick of the post-season wild card race, but must now focus on an eight-game road trip to Hickory, N.C., and Asheville, N.C., that begins Wednesday following today's off-day.

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"We need to come back from this trip at least with a .500 record," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "We know what's at stake and we have to play better than we have the last two games."

That will start with a pitching staff that allowed 27 hits in the last two games.

Brad Hennessey (2-6) was the victim Monday, allowing 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings and six of the Augusta runs.

Sharp singles by Dustin Brisson and Dustin Brown and a bunt single by Addison Bowman loaded the bases with none out in the Augusta second.

A sharply hit bouncer off the bat of Jeff Ontiveros toward Jake Wald at short appeared to be of the double play variety, but the usually slick-fielding Wald misplayed it into two runs.

Augusta struck for two more in the top of the third on an RBI triple by Chad Spann and a single by Brisson for a 4-0 advantage before the Suns even collected their first hit.

In the bottom of the third, Wald doubled, went to third on an infield out and scored on a wild pitch by Chris Smith.

Helped out by two wild pitches, Augusta sent Hennessey to the showers with three singles in the sixth inning.

Hagerstown scored in the sixth on a double by Kevin Alexander, a walk to Carlos Sosa, a fielder's choice and a sacrifice fly by Brian Buscher.

Reliever Eric Threets was touched for a solo home run in the seventh by Brisson, playing in his 11th game for Augusta after being signed as a free agent.

"We just got spanked again by them," Ramsey said. "They came out, got on us early and got clutch hits to get us down.

Smith (2-2) went six innings for the GreenJackets, and of the 18 outs recorded during his stint, 14 came on ground balls. The Suns were unable to muster up a hit in the final three innings against Augusta relievers Milton Taverez and Mike Garber.

Following a four-game series in Hickory and a four-gamer in Asheville, the Suns return home for the final time in the regular season with a 10-game stint that includes four against Greensboro, N.C., one of Hagerstown's chief challengers for the wild card spot.

All will be for naught if the Suns forget to rise on the road trip.

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