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Suns' late rally keeps Shorebirds at bay

June 04, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

It couldn't have been better for the Hagerstown Suns on Thursday.

Nate Schierholtz was in the spot he wanted and manager Mike Ramsey had the guy he wanted in the clutch position.

What else could the Suns need ... besides a couple of breaks? Schierholtz bounced a hot shot off Delmarva first baseman Mike Russell's glove with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning, producing two runs and a come-from-behind 7-6 victory for Hagerstown before 2,532 fans at Municipal Stadium.

The Suns' third baseman had five RBI and drove in six runs - including five in the last two innings - as Hagerstown came back from a 6-2 deficit to beat Delmarva for the fifth straight time. Schierholtz hit with 11 runners on base in his last five at-bats.

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"That's definitely the situation any player wants to be in, especially the No. 3 hitter," said Schierholtz, who is tied for the South Atlantic League lead with 14 home runs. "It feels good to see runners on base because it shows that the team is starting to click and we got a couple of key hits."

None were more key than those by Schierholtz, who clubbed a three-run double to left-center field in the eighth to move the Suns within 6-5. Then came the ninth-inning at-bat, again with the bases loaded, when Schierholtz hit Russ Petrick's 1-1 pitch to handcuff Russell and score Tim Hutting and Jesse Schmidt with the decisive runs.

"Late in the game, the right guy came up," Ramsey said. "There is no guy I'd rather have up there in that situation than him, league-wide. I love to have him up there late in the game because I know I'm always going to get a good at-bat."

The Suns (24-28) proved to be patient to get to that point. In fact, Hagerstown left 16 runners on base in the game, just to add drama to the outcome.

"We missed a couple of key opportunities early," Ramsey said. "We were just able to get some guys on in front of (Schierholtz). Hutting had some good at-bats and is starting to hit the top of the ball and Jason Columbus was real patient today."

Hutting was a key component in the comeback with three hits to start rallies, while Columbus drew three walks and was hit by a pitch in five plate appearances.

Delmarva looked as if it was going to take one to the Suns early, though, by jumping on Hagerstown starter Jesse Floyd for a 3-0 lead. Russell hit a two-run homer to left center in the second and Nate Spears added an RBI single in the third to build the lead.

Hagerstown got one back on Delmarva starter Joey Coppinger as Hutting tripled to right and scored on Travis Ishikawa's single.

Floyd allowed two more runs in the sixth as Cory Harris led off with a single, followed by Bryan Bass' RBI double and Nick Markakis' single for a 5-1 lead.

Schierholtz drove in his first run in the fifth with a single off Jeff Montani to get the Suns within 5-2. Delmarva got the run back off Bill Musgrave in the eighth on Russell's RBI double.

Hutting singled and Jon Coutlangus and Ishikawa each drew a walk to set up Schierholtz's one-out double off Mike Patitucci.

Sean Martin came on for the Suns in the ninth and shut down the Shorebirds to keep Hagerstown in contention for the win.

"We didn't really pitch that well today," Ramsey said. "But the pitchers kept us in the game and we caught what was hit to us ... and then we got the right guy in the right situation in the end."

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