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Munhall delivers for Suns

May 15, 2004|By BOB PARASILITI

It took a bad break to put Brian Munhall in a good place for the Hagerstown Suns.

The Suns catcher was in the right place on Friday, but for all the wrong reasons. He had reason to celebrate, but it was tempered with concern. It was good, while being bad and ugly at the same time.

Munhall was pressed into duty in the third inning after starter Dayton Buller was lifted with a broken right index finger. Munhall made the best out of the opportunity, getting two key hits and driving in the winning run in a 3-2 win over Columbus before 2,024 rain-dampened fans at Municipal Stadium.

"It's hard to think about," Munhall said. "I don't want his job that way. (Buller) is as good of a friend as I have on the team. We are competitive, but we are friends. When he came out I knew he was done."

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Buller took Columbus' Jerome Milons' foul tip off his throwing hand with two outs and Tony Abreu at first. Abreu attempted to steal on the next pitch as Buller made two tries at pulling the ball out of his glove. He got the grip on the third try, but threw the ball wildly into right center field as his finger snapped on the release.

Abreu advanced on the throwing error and scored as center fielder Jon Coutlangus airmailed his throw to third. Buller was lifted from the game immediately.

"Brian had a couple of good at-bats for us tonight," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "We are just disappointed at what happened to Buller. He was starting to play well. We are happy with the win, but it is tempered by what happened to Buller."

Columbus took a 2-0 lead against Suns starter Ben Thurmond in the fourth.

Munhall led off the fifth by doubling down the right-field line off Catfish starter Chuck Tiffany. He took third on Tim Hutting's one-out single and scored on Coutlangus' sacrifice fly.

The Suns tied the game in the sixth as Nate Schierholtz greeted Columbus reliever Arturo Lopez with a home run to right field. Mike Wagner drew a two-out walk and scored when Munhall lined a triple over left fielder Xavier Paul's head after fouling off a number of pitches.

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