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Armitage ignites recently hot Suns vs. Intimidators

August 24, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Jonathan Armitage gave the Kannapolis Intimidators a physics and civics lesson with one swing of the bat Monday.

"I just tried to swing hard and put the barrel on the ball," the Hagerstown Suns left fielder said. "It just fell in a good spot. ... I was just looking for a good pitch to hit. After that, it was history."

Armitage's two-run triple with two outs in the first inning got the Suns out of the blocks in a 7-3 victory before 1,220 fans at Municipal Stadium while putting a crimp in the South Atlantic League debut for Kannapolis starter Adam Russell.

The Suns were on the verge of going down meekly in the first after putting runners on first and third with two outs. Tim Hutting singled and worked his way to third before Jason Columbus drew a two-out walk.

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Armitage saved the opportunity by lining a shot just inside the right-field line and into the corner, allowing Hutting to score easily and Columbus to lumber around from first base.

"I just wanted to hit it hard," Armitage said. "It went far enough to get Columbus around the bases and we scored early to take the pressure off our pitchers."

There wasn't much more that the Suns could ask for.

Armitage's hit started a three-run first inning and allowed starter Ryan Sadowski to ease into a groove against the Intimidators. After allowing Chris Young's solo homer and Brandon Bounds' single, the Suns right-hander retired the next 13 Kannapolis batters.

It led to the Suns' third straight win and fourth in five games. Meanwhile, Monday's crowd moved the Suns to 115,947 fans for the season, the team's best attendance since 1992.

In the three-game streak, Armitage is 5-for-12 with three RBI, coming on a solo home run and the two-run triple.

"We have been doing a nice job hitting with two outs the last couple of days," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said.

"I told Armitage that I wanted to be more aggressive at the plate with runners in scoring position. He had been passive, but the last two or three games, he's hit the ball hard."

Armitage scored on a passed ball in the first to give the Suns and Sadowski a 3-0 lead.

Hagerstown extended the lead in the third on solo home runs by Columbus and newly acquired Zach Strong to take a 5-0 lead.

Sadowski sailed along until the seventh inning when Young and Bounds led off with back-to-back homers to cut the deficit to 5-3.

"Sadowski pitched well, even though the home runs will ruin what was a good start," Ramsey said. "It was near his best game of the season."

Aaron Hornostaj drove in his first run for the Suns in the seventh and Jay Knowlton capped the scoring with an RBI single in the eighth. Brian Wilson shut down Kannapolis for the final 2 2/3 innings for his second save.

"I've said all season, it's not the number of hits you get, it's when you get them," Ramsey said. "We got the hits early and got another quality start."

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