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Suns farm for insurance

April 09, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

It was a game that was almost like a walk in the garden for the Hagerstown Suns.

Manager Gene Richards planted a seed, designated hitter Dante Brinkley sprouted a rally and first baseman Mike Carp harvested the results for the Suns on Friday.

Brinkley used the power of suggestion to his favor, turning Richards' tip to bunt into a leadoff single in the sixth inning to start a two-run rally built strictly on execution as the Suns claimed a 3-2 victory over the West Virginia Power.

Brinkley's bunt was the only hit of the inning as the Suns' running game again applied pressure on the Power's defense. Hagerstown used back-to-back sacrifice flies by Ambiorix Conception and Carp to bring home what proved to be the winning runs.

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It all started by the word of mouth by Richards.

"I told him at the start of the inning to look around to see if (the bunt) was there," Richards said. "I was just planting the seed. The young man saw what he liked and decided on his own to go with it."

The Suns were nursing a 1-0 lead - provided by Brinkley's one-out home run in the first - when West Virginia reliever Brian Montalbo entered the game.

Brinkley stepped in and pushed a drag bunt past the left side of the mound to leg out the hit.

"Gene mentioned it to me right before I went up and I looked to see if they were playing back," Brinkley said. "It was a key situation and we needed to get someone on. In baseball, most of the time it only takes one thing to snowball from there and the snowball went our way."

Carlos Gomez followed with a sacrifice bunt to advance Brinkley, but reached safely when first baseman Grant Richardson dropped the throw to put runners on first and third. After Gomez stole second, Conception and Carp each launched deep drives to center to bring home the two runners.

"We did very well with our execution," Richards said. "Getting the two sacrifice flies to get those guys in was big. Our running still came into play, with Gomez stealing the base. Yesterday was sort of an easy game, but today was a challenge. It showed what our guys can do."

For Carp, it was a study in perseverance. He struck out swinging in his first two at-bats against West Virginia left-handed starter Greg Kloosterman. Against Montalbo, Carp ripped a homer-length foul to right before switching into execution mode to get the sacrifice fly.

"We are always looking to drive runs in when we have men on base. That's something we work on in batting practice all the time," Carp said. "It's all part of Gene's game plan. He wants us to hit the (ball as hard as we can) to the right side of the field. You just have to go up there with an idea of what has to be done."

The insurance runs were enough to make sure Suns pitcher Blake Eager (1-0) got the win after a superb start. Eager completed five innings with his pitch count while holding the Power scoreless on one hit and striking out two.

"That was a top performance," Richards said. "If Eager had not done the job like he did, we could have been in trouble."

West Virginia tightened the score by scratching out single runs against Matt Miramontes in the seventh and eighth innings.

The Power used Carlos Corporan's triple to right - as result of a missed diving try by Gomez - and Freddy Parejo's grounder to cut the deficit to two runs. West Virginia chased Miramontes in the eighth after Alcides Escobar was hit by a pitch with one out and scored on Hernan Iribarren's double to right center.

Marcelo Perez came on to record the last four outs to get his first save.

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