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Suns end first half on a high note

June 19, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Jonathan Schemmel approached his first at-bat Sunday as if it were the post-game meal in the Hagerstown Suns' clubhouse.

He stepped in, held his ground and just tried to cover the plate.

Schemmel's two-run, two-out single in the second inning opened up a veritable buffet of opportunities for the Suns as Hagerstown closed the first half of the season on a high note with a 6-3 victory over Delmarva before a Father's Day crowd of 1,769 at Municipal Stadium.

Schemmel faced Delmarva starter David Hernandez in a 1-1 tie with two outs, two strikes and two runners in scoring position - a situation that has been the downfall of the Suns for much of the season. He found success in one of baseball's most complicated hitting situations by simplifying it all.

"I like to think of myself as a pretty good two-strike hitter," the Suns second baseman said. "The first thing I tried to do was cover the outside of the plate with two strikes. I'm not a power hitter, so that plays into my style of hitting. I'm ready if they jam me inside, but I'm covering the outside of the plate."

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Hernandez went outside on Schemmel, who went with the pitch and rolled it through the right side of the infield with Delmarva second baseman Jonathan Tucker playing close to the bag. The hit allowed Jose Castro and Jonel Pacheco to score to complete a three-run rally and post Suns starter Deolis Guerra to a 3-1 lead.

It was a breakthrough hit for the Suns, who have left more than their share of runners stranded in those same situations. It gave Hagerstown the early cushion which allowed it to dictate the tone of the rest of the game.

"When the ball starts rolling that way (unsuccessfully), you tend to get nervous and it all snowballs," Schemmel said. "But for the last month, we have started to play better and have been hitting the ball better."

The early rally allowed the Suns to keep the Shorebirds at arm's length all day as Hagerstown closed the first half with a 28-42 record, good for last place in the South Atlantic League's North Division. The Suns finished the half by winning three of their last four games, before Thursday's start of the second half when the records are rolled back to 0-0.

Delmarva took a 1-0 lead in the second by manufacturing a run. Mark Fleisher was hit by a Guerra pitch to lead off the inning, took second on Arturo Rivas' single and third on Quincy Ascencion's sacrifice bunt before scoring on Brandon Snyder's sacrifice fly.

The Suns answered with the three runs in the second, started when Nick Evans reached on a two-base throwing error by shortstop Stu Musselwhite. He scored on a wild pitch before Schemmel's hit.

Delmarva's Lorenzo Scott and Hagerstown's Jonathan Sanchez traded home runs to right field in the third as the Suns moved to a 4-2 lead.

The Suns became aggressive in the sixth to put the game away.

Leivi Ventura led off with a double to left and took third on Castro's sacrifice bunt. Pacheco ripped a single to center to score Ventura and chase Hernandez from the game.

Drew Butera greeted Brad Bergesen with a single to short right-center field with Pacheco leaving on the crack of the bat. Pacheco headed for third and kept going, scoring from first on a 210-foot single.

"To me, Schemmel's hit and Pacheco hustling were the two plays of the game," Suns manager Frank Cacciatore said. "(Pacheco) was on the move and he read me well. When he saw me moving up the line, he turned on the afterburners. That run was a big hustling play that broke their back a bit, but it was a big momentum play for us."

The 17-year-old Guerra went five innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out three. Eric Brown allowed a run in the seventh during his two innings of work before Brandon Nall and Kevin Tomasiewicz each worked an inning to close out the win.

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