Suns finish homestand perfect

April 14, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

Dante Brinkley found himself on Wednesday.

It wasn't like the Hagerstown Suns outfielder was missing, just a little misplaced. And after a brief respite, Brinkley was back doing the thing hitters need to do.

Swing the bat.

Brinkley came back after a night off with a flash of aggressiveness to produce two hits - including a home run - and drive in four runs to pace Hagerstown to an 8-6 victory over Lakewood in a Businessperson's Special matinee at Municipal Stadium.

"Dante was very impressive today," Suns manager Gene Richards said. "He finally wanted to swing the bat again. He had been becoming passive up there the last couple of days."


Brinkley got maximum production out of the No. 2 slot in the batting order - a spot not normally known for run production - as he also scored three times, giving him a hand in six of the Suns' runs. He was hit by a pitch and scored in the first, lined a two-run home run to right in the second and rapped a two-run bases-loaded single to center in the fourth.

It was a huge piece of production for the Suns, who remained undefeated through their first seven games and swept their season-opening homestand. Hagerstown begins its first road trip, a seven-game swing, starting tonight in Charleston, W.Va., against the West Virginia Power.

"The guys in front of me were just getting on base and a lot of them were in scoring position," said Brinkley, who is hitting .429, including two home runs. "I wasn't trying to do a lot up there. I was trying to be the man."

The Suns were manly in taking advantage of the control woes of Lakewood starter Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco walked four and hit two Hagerstown batters, which accounted for four of the seven runs scored against him.

Brinkley was hit by a pitch in the first and went around the stations with the help of an error and walk before scoring on Grant Psomas' sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.

Brinkley followed with his two-out homer in the second to stake Suns starter Blake Eager (2-0) to a 3-0 lead.

"I was just trying to get a good swing on the pitch," Brinkley said. "I got one up in the chest area and connected."

Eager barreled through the BlueClaws lineup, retiring the first nine hitters he faced.

Greg Golson led off the fourth with an infield single and scored on Bradley Harman's double to break up the shutout. Harman cut the deficit to 3-2 by advancing to third, then scoring on consecutive grounders to second by Sam Orr and Jason Drobiak.

"Eager did a great job," Richards said. "He went out there and set the tone for the game. I told the guys that (Lakewood) was probably ready to be blown out after yesterday (the Suns' 7-6 come-from-behind victory). We went after them, but I was wrong. That's what happens when you face a young, energetic team."

The Suns answered Lakewood's rally with four runs in the fourth. Carrasco walked Armand Gaerlan, Rafael Arroyo and Wilson Batista to load the bases for Brinkley's two-run single, followed by RBI hits by Corey Coles and Derran Watts to build a 7-3 lead.

The Suns added an insurance run in the eighth, with the help of two Lakewood errors. Arroyo reached on Harman's fielding error, before moving to third on Batista's single to right and scoring on right fielder Timi Moni's errant throw.

Lakewood tightened the outcome in the ninth when Moni blasted a reliever Kevin Mannix pitch over the left field wall for a three-run home run.

The Suns finished with 10 hits as Watts produced his second straight three-hit game. Batista, Brinkley and Coles - the top three hitters in the Suns order - had two each.

"We have seven victories, but our execution hasn't been that good," Richards said. "I told the guys that we are striving for perfection, but perfection is something you will never get. We still have things we can work on."

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