Schierholtz sparks Suns again

June 11, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

Nate Schierholtz was just looking for something comfortable to sit on.

It came special delivery, in the form of a Clemente Doble fastball.

After his Hagerstown teammates did more moving than Allied Van Lines Thursday, Schierholtz found a cozy corner for the pitch to call home - over the right field wall for a two-run home run to cap a three-run eighth inning for a 3-2 win over Lakewood.

"I was sitting on a fastball and I got one I could handle," said Schierholtz after hitting his 15th home run to tie for the South Atlantic League lead. "I had been struggling early, but I went up there looking in a broad zone for a pitch to hit."

He got it. It came on a 1-1 count, one pitch after Schierholtz drove a Doble changeup down the right-field line foul. On the next offering, it was lock, load and launch to allow Jon Coutlangus to trot home from third base.


"Nate came up in a good situation," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "He hasn't hit a home run in awhile - and you don't go into the situation thinking he's going to hit one - but he's a special hitter. He doesn't have a lot of spots where someone can pitch to get him out."

It ended a big comeback for the Suns, who came back from the dead in the seventh before finding life in the eighth.

Lakewood pitchers Scott Mathieson and Cory Schultz held Hagerstown hitless through the first six innings while the BlueClaws nursed a 2-0 lead.

Jason Columbus broke up the no-hitter with a single to lead off the seventh and Pat Dobson later reached on a bunt, but the Suns (27-32) remained scoreless.

Doble came on in the eighth and was greeted by Tomas Garrido's double to right and Jon Coutlangus' single to center. After Jesse Schmidt grounded to the mound to move Coutlangus to second, Travis Ishikawa drove a sacrifice fly to left to score Garrido with Coutlangus taking third on the throw.

Then Schierholtz followed, making sure all the ground work paid off.

"We were feeling a little pressure, then Columbus got the hit," Schierholtz said. "Garrido's double to start the eight was a big hit. When I got up, I didn't know if I would get any good pitches to hit, especially with first base open. I couldn't look at it that way because I have to keep the same approach every at-bat."

The timing was great for the Suns.

"Better late than never," Ramsey said. "First of all, we got those first two guys on. And when we did that, we had to make thing happen then. When that happened, I knew we were going to get Schierholtz up in the inning."

The Hagerstown rally took a loss from starter Ben Thurmond and turned into a win for reliever Joe Bateman (7-1) while Tim Alvarez pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save.

Thurmond got stronger as his six-inning stint wore on, but he gave up a two-run homer to Lakewood's Jose Cortez in the second to fall behind 2-0. After allowing two more hits in the inning, 13 of the last 14 BlueClaws he faced.

"Thurmond struggled early with his command, but he got going and his changeup was a big league pitch tonight," Ramsey said. "He did a good job throwing that pitch and got consistent."

Bateman allowed just two walks in his two innings before Alvarez closed out the win.

"The Bateman-Alvarez combination has been big for us," Ramsey said. "He's got seven win and has set up a lot of saves for Alvarez."

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