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Suns send Tourists packing

August 07, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Eddy Martinez-Esteve, don't touch that dial.

Any adjustment the Hagerstown Suns' newly acquired outfielder plans to make might only change his focus.

Martinez-Esteve showed that a new team in a new town on a new level of baseball might be only as hard as you make it on Friday by hitting a decisive three-run home run with two outs in the eighth to lift the Suns to a 5-2 win over the Asheville Tourists.

Martinez-Esteve completed his second night in town by going 2-for-4 with four RBI to pace the Suns to a second straight win. He was San Francisco's second-round pick - and top selection - in June's amateur draft out of Florida State. He played 10 games for Salem-Keizer before his promotion to Hagerstown, where he is 4-for-9 (.444) with five RBI in his first two games.

"I'm just trying to make adjustments," Martinez-Esteve said. "I'm trying to get used to hitting with a wooden bat and the surroundings and the type of game. It game moves a lot faster now."

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He stopped it in its tracks in the eighth inning, ruining Asheville's attempt to benefit from situational pitching matchups in a 2-2 tie.

Asheville reliever Jeff Watchko hit Jay Knowlton with a pitch and allowed Tim Hutting to single in the hole at second base after getting the first out and before being lifted for left-handed Melvin Rosario to face Travis Ishikawa.

Rosario was lifted after striking out Ishikawa for right handed Steve Thomas to face right-handed swinging Martinez-Esteve. After backing away from a tight, inside fastball, Martinez-Esteve pounced on a Thomas change-up and drove it over the right-field fence to give the Suns all they needed for the win.

"It was a good pitch to hit," Martinez-Esteve said. "I didn't know the setup ... I just came out trying to hit the ball hard. Going to the opposite field is my bread and butter, but I'll hit the ball anywhere it's pitched."

The homer was a big lift for the Suns, who were short-handed in the bullpen with a possibility of extra innings looming on the horizon.

"The big boy got that hit and it was huge with two outs," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "He got the change and really stayed back on the ball. He's got a good approach and knows what he's doing up there."

Martinez-Esteve got the chance to show his ability thanks to the outing by Hagerstown starter Mike Musgrave, who allowed one run on two hits over six innings. Aaron Sobieraj allowed the tying run in an inning of work, before giving way to Tim Alvarez, who pitched the final two innings for his 22nd save.

Musgrave, a converted reliever, gave the Suns a second straight quality start of at least six innings, easing the pressure on a strapped bullpen.

"That good start by Musgrave was huge again," Ramsey said. "I didn't want to use Sobieraj, but told him I would use him it would be one inning if needed. After that I had, Alvarez and (Travis) Nesmith out there only, because (Jesse) Floyd will starting on Monday."

The Suns will receive starting pitcher Daniel Portorreal and reliever Ryan Callahan. Portorreal was the starting pitcher for the 2003 home opener.

The Suns took a 1-0 lead in the first when Knowlton doubled and scored on Martinez-Esteve's single. Asheville tied the game in the third on Randy Blood's fielder's choice.

Hagerstown regained the lead in the fourth when Ishikawa led off with a double and scored on Mike Wagner's single. The lead didn't hold up as the Tourists tied the game at 2-2 in the seventh on Joe Gaetti's RBI double, setting the stage for Martinez-Esteve and his adjustments.

"You can tell he has a good idea of what he's doing," Suns hitting coach Hector Torres said. "He stays inside the ball. Good prospects always find a way ... You can see he's a real find."

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