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Suns take Shorebirds to school

May 27, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Jonathan Armitage's ability to handle a pop quiz gave the Hagerstown Suns more than just a passing grade on Education Day.

Armitage came up with a diving stab in the third inning of the opening game of a matinee doubleheader to preserve an early Hagerstown lead and end a possible Delmarva tying rally Wednesday as the Suns scored a 7-5, 5-0 sweep before 4,021 at Municipal Stadium.

Keith Anderson drove in four runs, which included a three-run home run in the third inning, and Nate Schierholtz added his South Atlantic League-leading 13th homer as the Suns claimed the opener. Juan Serrato fired a complete-game shutout and Derek Barrows and Jay Knowlton provided clutch hits to give Hagerstown a sweep of the three-game series and send Delmarva to its eighth straight loss.

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"We played really well today," Hagerstown manager Mike Ramsey said. "Winning that second game was important. Armitage's catch was huge. He just laid out and got the ball."

The Suns left fielder charged to his right on Quincy Ascencion's drive down the line and laid out to grab the ball to leave Juan Guiterrez stranded at second base and end the Delmarva rally. The play left Shorebirds manager Bien Figueroa clapping his hands in frustration from the third base coaching box about what might have been.

"I was thinking it was going down the line and got a good jump," Armitage said. "And then I just laid out. All 6-foot-5 of me worked well on that one."

With the 4-3 lead still in hand, the Suns continued to take an aggressive approach offensively, which paid off in Anderson's homer in the bottom of the inning for a comfortable 7-3 lead. Jason Columbus started the rally with a one-out single before Mike Wagner was hit by a Fredy Deza pitch to set the stage for Anderson.

The Suns staked starter Ben Thurmond to a 4-0 lead in the first, highlighted by Schierholtz's two-run homer. Columbus, who had three hits, doubled and Armitage walked before Wagner reached on third baseman Bryan Bass' throwing error. Columbus scored on the throw and Wagner moved into position to score on Anderson's sacrifice fly.

Delmarva got back into the game on Nick Markakis' two-run home run in the second and Cory Harris' solo shot in the third before Guiterrez doubled and was stranded.

Nate Spears hit a two-run home run off Christopher George in the sixth to move the Shorebirds within two runs of the Suns. But Tim Alvarez came on to put the Shorebirds away in order in the ninth for his 10th save.

In the nightcap, Serrato and Delmarva starter Hayden Penn locked in a duel of no-hitters through three innings.

The Suns finally broke through in the fifth when Armitage drew a leadoff walk, stole second and took third when Jesse Schmidt legged out an infield single to second. Bowers followed with an RBI single to left and Knowlton unloaded a two-run double to center for a 3-0 lead.

Armitage added a two-run homer in the sixth to cap the scoring as Serrato iced the Shorebirds on three hits. He walked none and struck out five.

"Juan kept the ball down and worked in and out," Ramsey said. "He did it all today. Our guys did a great job in the second game. All the school kids left and no one was in the stands. They had to dig deep down and pull out the intensity they needed to win this one."

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