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Schierholtz walks off miscues

10th-inning, game-winning home run atones for two errors

10th-inning, game-winning home run atones for two errors

May 13, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

Defensively, Hagerstown's Nate Schierholtz will be getting more work at third base.

Offensively, there's not much wrong with the power-hitting lefty.

Schierholtz delivered a walkoff home run in the bottom of the 10th inning against Rome on Wednesday to the delight of 3,755 Education Day fans at Municpal Stadium as the Suns won 4-3 to snap a five-game losing streak.

Leading off, Schierholtz scorched a slider from Rome's Sean White on a 1-1 count that sailed far over the fence in right field, helping to atone for two fielding errors that gave him four in the last two games.

"Nate's playing everything he is trying to field to the side right now," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "We're going to begin to address the errors immediately. Nate is too good of a player. We just need to develop his defense."

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Schierholtz, the Suns' leading producer in every offensive category, went 3-for-5 on Wednesday, raising his batting average from .319 to .331 and improving on his .563 slugging percentage.

With his seventh home run, he also improved his RBI count to 26.

"It was a tough game for me but it felt great to make up for the errors," Schierholtz said. "I got fastballs from him and then he threw a slider. I sat back on the pitch and I got it out on the barrel of the bat."

After Rome (15-17) scored two runs in the third inning off Jesse Floyd, one of which was unearned due to one of Schierholtz's errors, the Suns (13-20) went to work with three runs in the fourth off Larry Digby.

Schierholtz led off with a single, went to second on a grounder and scored on Jay Knowlton's single. Mike Wagner then laced a fastball off the scoreboard in left-center, about 425 feet away, for his fourth dinger of the year.

With Jesse English on in relief for the Suns, Rome tied the game 3-3 in the eighth on a leadoff walk to Ardley Jansen and a long double off the wall in center by Steve Doetsch.

"Except for the errors, we played pretty good defense with a couple of big double plays," Ramsey said. "Top to bottom we're hitting the ball well, and we were just looking to get a runner on base in the 10th because we had the big guns coming up."

The Suns received a quality start from Floyd, who came into the game with a 6.98 ERA, allowing opponents to hit .366 against him. He went six innings in his second start of the season and allowed four hits. Joe Bateman pitched the final two innings for the win.

"Floyd had an excellent, quality start," Ramsey said. "He's had some strong efforts in relief and today, he kept the ball down and hit both sides of the plate. And Bateman continues to pitch very well. He's been a saver for us, throws strikes and was lights out today."

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