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Suns find right mix

August 03, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

After spinning through a season of opposite orbits, the two different worlds of the Hagerstown Suns collided Monday at Municipal Stadium.

Their starting pitching and their hitting finally came together in the same game and it was as sweet as when Reese's mixed chocolate with peanut butter.

Omar Anez smothered Greensboro on four hits over seven innings and Travis Ishikawa clubbed two mammoth home runs over the center field wall while driving in six runs as the Suns swatted the Bats, 14-1.

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"We got a lot of timely hits and a quality start and that was big," Hagerstown manager Mike Ramsey said. "Omar did a good job mixing his pitches. We haven't had many quality starts - ones with at least six innings and less than three runs."

Anez (2-5) overwhelmed Greensboro after a couple of shaky moments in the first inning. After notching two leadoff strikeouts, Ryan Bear and Angel Molina notched back-to-back singles before Anez helped out with a wild pitch to score the run.

From there, Anez (2-5) retired the next 16 batters in a row and avoided problems in the seventh to finish with 10 strikeouts.

"When the game got tied (1-1), I thought it was 0-0 again and got to throw all my pitches," Anez said. "They got me a couple of runs, I relaxed and started looking for outs. I've struck out five, six, seven batters in a game before, but after I got the lead, I was just looking to retire them 1-2-3."

Anez got the Suns (13-24, 41-63) off the field quickly and into the dugout to swing the bats. It paid off with a five-run fifth to blow open the game and a three-run sixth, two coming on Ishikawa's first homer, to build an 11-1 lead.

Ishikawa picked up his first of the six RBI in the fifth as the Suns stacked five straight hits to chase Greensboro starter Ryan Warpinski (2-2). Jay Knowlton's and Ishikawa's run-scoring singles were the prelude to Jason Columbus' three-run homer to left.

"I put a good swing on those pitches and the balls just jumped off my bat," Ishikawa said. "When I hit them, they felt great. I just kind of hit a groove. (Hitting coach Hector Torres) and I have been working a lot on my swing and I'm feeling a lot more comfortable."

Anez wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh after allowing a lead off double to Bear, a one-out single to Ryan Blake and hitting Steve Gendron with a pitch with two outs. But the right-hander closed his outing by getting Patrick Arlis to pop a foul to right that Ishikawa turned into an over the shoulder catch to end the inning.

Ishikawa closed Hagerstown's scoring in the eighth with a three-run homer to left center. The left-handed hitter hit both shots off left-handed reliever Zach McCormack.

Travis Nesmith pitched the final two innings for the Suns, who had 13 hits.

"We did a nice job hitting," Ramsey said. "We are trying to get them to hit gap to gap. If they can do that, the home runs will come. We are trying to put a good final month together. We want to keep up the intensity and energy and if we can do that, we'll see what happens."

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