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Nall brews up a shot for Power

June 08, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

When Brandon Nall is on, he's like espresso.

On a good day, everything the Hagerstown Suns' reliever throws ends up being hot, potent and well grounded.

Nall was on Wednesday and, because of that, the West Virginia Power will probably be up all night.

Nall used his sidearming motion to fire 3 1/3 innings of effective relief to help the Suns protect a lead and pick up a 2-1 win over the Power, the top hitting team in the South Atlantic League.

"That's my forte is throwing sidearm," said Nall (1-2), who got the win in relief of starting newcomer Nelson Portillo. "If I'm on, I get movement and ground balls. I guess it was moving good today. (The Power) haven't faced me much before and they were way out in front on their swings."

It wasn't a picture-book ending for Nall, but it was everything the Suns needed for a win.

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He relieved Portillo with two outs in the fifth and got the benefits of the Suns' do-it-yourself, built-from-scratch two-run rally in the bottom of the inning. The movement off Nall's sidearm delivery forced West Virginia to hit grounders on seven of the 10 outs he recorded, including four that were bounced in front of the plate where either he or catcher Tony Piazza made the plays.

"He did a real good job," Suns manager Frank Cacciatore said. "He was able to keep the ball on the ground and that's his style. When he doesn't have good stuff, that ball is usually in the air. He's done a great job for us from day one. He gets in there, rears back and throws."

Nall got the first weak grounder from Ned Yost in the sixth with the Power threatening. West Virginia had runners on first and second when Yost bounced back to Nall, who fired to first for the out. Despite a walk to load the bases, Nall struck out Ryan Crews to end the threat.

After three consecutive grounders - including two nubbers - to complete the seventh, Nall struggled through, but survived the eighth. After recording the first two outs, Nall issued walks to Mike Bell and Yost before Tony Festa cut the lead in half with a single to right.

With runners on first and third, Nall uncorked a wild pitch past Piazza. Yost attempted to score from third, but he was tagged out at the plate by Nall.

"Other than the last inning when I exploded, I was getting ahead in the count with my fastball," Nall said. "They were swinging early, but getting that first strike with my fastball was the key. In the end, I didn't lose focus ... I just lost the feel for the strike zone."

The Suns took a 2-0 lead in the fifth, using bunts, sacrifices and aggressive running to construct the runs off starter Steve Garrison (1-1). Piazza started the rally with his second double of the night and took third, sliding just ahead of the throw off Elvis Cruz's bunt and scored on Joe Holden's sacrifice fly.

With two outs and after Leivi Ventura walked, Nick Evan grounded to second base, but reached safely when first baseman Yost dropped the throw from Crew to let what became the winning run score.

Kevin Tomasiewicz pitched the ninth to earn his fourth save.

"Tomasiewicz did his job," Nall said. "I was able to come in and set up for him and was fortunate to hold the lead and that gave Tomasiewicz the chance to do his job. This was totally a team victory."

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