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A baseball education

Suns take Kannapolis to school in win

Suns take Kannapolis to school in win

May 04, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

There's no better time to show off what you have learned than on Education Day.

The Hagerstown Suns showed a throng of schoolchildren that even though they may be students of the game, they are at the head of their class.

The Suns spent the first half of Tuesday's game manufacturing runs and capped it with a burst of good ol' fashioned expressiveness to make the grade with an 11-4 victory over Kannapolis before 4,017 fans in the first of three Education Day morning matinees at Municipal Stadium.

Hagerstown used situational hitting and dynamic base running to build a 6-2 lead through four innings before putting on an offensive show, capped by a two-hit, four-RBI performance by Tyler Davidson.

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"I thought it was very good for us because of the things we were able to capitalize on," Suns manager Gene Richards said. "We made productive outs. Before in those situations, we would strike out and then pop out to get out of those situations with no one coming through. Today, we did."

It was a weird, surreal style for the Suns (18-8), who have made an early trademark of scoring in memorable style. But on Tuesday, the Suns nickeled and dimed their way into the lead, which allows them to keep sole possession of the South Atlantic League North Division lead.

Suns starter Gabriel Hernandez (2-1) benefited from Hagerstown's piecemeal scoring for an early cushion. Hernandez allowed one of Kannapolis' three hits and two runs in five innings before Matt Durkin and Kevin Mannix came on to close out the game.

The Suns' ability to take extra bases helped generate rallies in spots when they weren't apparent.

Hagerstown scored in the first as Dante Brinkley reached after being hit by Lucas Harrell's first pitch and took third on Armand Gaerlan's single to right before Ambiorix Concepcion grounded into a double play to score him.

The Suns added a run in the second when Derran Watts copied Brinkley's movements and scored on newly acquired Matt Bacon's grounder.

Hagerstown led 4-0 after three innings on an RBI single by Mike Carp before Grant Psomas walked and scored when Watts' grounder was thrown away by shortstop Ryan McCarthy on an attempt to start a double play. Psomas circled the bases and scored over catcher Francisco Hernandez in a collision at the plate.

"First and foremost, we were aggressive on the bases," Richards said. "Watts and Psomas did good jobs moving up bases. We did a lot of things fundamentally sound."

The Suns settled in with a 6-2 lead after scoring off a second double play and a bases-loaded walk to Psomas. Then, the real offense showed up.

Concepcion hit his second home run in as many games in the sixth off John Hurd before Carp singled and Psomas and Watts walked to load the bases. Noe Rodriguez came on to face Davidson, who ripped the second pitch he saw into left field for a three-run double and a 10-3 lead.

The double may have been bigger for Davidson than for the Suns. The first baseman is just regaining his form after an 0-for-14 start stemming from his struggles to cope with his role as an utility player. The hit turned the game into a laugher for the Suns, who finished with their highest run output of the season.

"To me, (batting with the bases loaded) is the same," said Davidson, who was able to hit with less pressure than normal in the situation because of Hagerstown's big lead. "My job is to get the guys on base in. In any situation, I'm trying to keep myself calm and trying to get the right pitch."

After going 0-for-3 to start the game, Davidson followed the double with a two-out solo home run in the eighth to bring home Hagerstown's last four runs.

"I'm just trying to get in and get my timing back," Davidson said. "I find myself doing that in the first two at-bats. I was just hoping to get a pitch that was up that I could drive. He hung a changeup on the double and I got a fastball up on the home run."

Hagerstown clubbed 12 hits, led by Gaerlan with three. The Suns scored five times off runners who reached by being walked or hit.

"I thought it was great the way we played," Richards said. "That's the way that Lake County played against us when we were up there and they took three of four games from us. This time, we were able to do it back against another team."

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