Suns treat big crowd to victory

July 03, 2004|By TIM KOELBLE

The largest crowd of the season at Municipal Stadium was just beginning to file into the stands on a muggy Friday night and the Hagerstown Suns were quickly falling behind.

But as the gathering of 4,702 settled into their seats, the Suns also settled and shook off their slow start to take a 5-2 victory over the Hickory Crawdads.

Suns right-hander Ben Thurmond grooved some pitches as three of the first four Crawdads roped singles which, combined with a walk and an error, led to an early 2-0 Hickory lead.


However, Thurmond (3-2) righted himself and held Hickory (4-4, 43-35) to three more singles over the next five innings to get his first win at home this season.

After two strong innings by Joe Bateman, Tim Alvarez came in for his 17th save.

Thurmond, who led Suns starters with a 2.42 ERA entering the game, struck out six and Bateman added four strikeouts in his two innings. After the first inning, Hickory had just one runner reach second base.

"Ben is one pitcher you know is going to make adjustments immediately," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "He keeps you in games. He doesn't lose his composure out there. He settled down and got his pitches down in the zone. He began to pitch and not just be a thrower."

The home crowd became a little more festive in the bottom of the second when Mike Wagner put the Suns on the scoreboard with a solo home run to right-center field, his seventh of the season and first of three hits in the game.

The Suns (2-5, 31-44) took the lead with a two-run fourth that was aided by a pair of Hickory errors.

Jonathan Armitage sandwiched a walked between two strikeouts and managed to steal second after nearly being picked off first base. Brian Munhall then tied the game with a run-scoring single to right.

Tim Hutting reached on the first of two errors by Hickory's Javier Guzman and Munhall scored when Jesse Schmidt's long fly to right bounced off the glove of Bobby Kingsbury to give the Suns a 4-2 lead.

Wagner also singled in the fifth, then sent a ground-rule double that bounced onto the pavilion roof in left field to plate Jason Columbus, who had singled to drive in Pat Dobson.

"With Nate (Schierholtz) gone I know it's my job to be one of the guys to pick up the slack," Wagner said. "I've been working on looking for good pitches and quit thinking about things at the plate too much."

He's been working with hitting coach Hector Torres with extra batting practice.

"Mike always wants to hit and he's been working hard with Hector," said Ramsey.

"We want to get him geared to hit the fastball. We need him in the five spot."

Wagner now has 30 RBI, his double tied Columbus for the team lead with 16 and his hit total stands at 61, three behind Schmidt.

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