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Intimidators have nothing on Gamero

July 26, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Jesus Gamero might not know about the notions proclaiming that you can't cheat a cheater or play a player.

But the Hagerstown Suns' outfielder is finding out that he can certainly intimidate an Intimidator.

For the second straight game, Gamero was Ghingas Kahn, Teddy Roosevelt and the Oakland Raiders all wrapped into one package, driving in five runs to lead the Suns to their sixth straight victory, 8-5 over Kannapolis in a Tuesday morning matinee before 1,818 summer campers at Municipal Stadium.

It gave Gamero nine RBI in less than 24 hours after plating four runs in Hagerstown's 13-1 win on Monday. He entered Monday's game with just two RBI - both on home runs - in 19 games.

"I'm just taking a better approach," Gamero said of his sudden success. "(The Intimidators) are good pitchers. I'm just seeing the ball well and not getting as many strikeouts. I want to keep up my approach ... and now, with it going good, I really want to keep it going."

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It's been golden for Gamero and the Suns over the last six games, but particularly the last two. Hagerstown has scored 21 runs on 29 hits in the first two games against Kannapolis. Gamero is 6-for-7.

"He's getting pitches he can drive," said Suns manager Frank Cacciatore. "When you come in and start contributing, you start to relax. The more you relax, the more you seem to start to contribute. He was a value player who started up here last year. Now after some injuries, he's starting to feel comfortable."

Suns starter Jonathan Niese won his 10th game of the season despite leaving with one out in the sixth with a small blister on his pitching hand. After Niese left with a 2-1 lead, Gamero tacked on his third RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly in the seventh and capped it with a two-run single in Hagerstown's five-run eighth.

A slight bullpen meltdown allowed the Intimidators to score four runs on one hit to make the score closer than the game actually was. Kevin Tomasiewicz, the third Suns pitcher in the inning, got the last out for his 11th save.

Niese took control of the game early and nursed the Suns' 2-0 lead into the fifth. Gamero followed Jose Castro's single and Rafael Arroyo's double with a two-run single to center off Kannapolis starter Ricky Brooks (8-7).

Niese started blistering in the fifth inning as he threw two wild pitches after allowing Anderson Gomes' leadoff single. Salvador Sanchez grounded to third to make it 2-1.

Niese (10-6) was lifted after allowing Paulo Orlando's one-out single in the sixth.

"Niese threw well, but he started to get a blister forming," Cacciatore said. "In the late innings, he started to change things. He was throwing from different arm slots and we didn't want to chance anything with him. We weren't going to mess around with him, so we took him out."

Orlando stole second and third against Suns reliever Brandon Nall.

Nall got the last two outs of the inning while protecting the one-run lead, stranding the tying run at third base.

The Suns blew the game open in the eighth after Gamero provided an insurance run an inning earlier.

Fernando Martinez started the rally with a leadoff single off reliever John Wesley. With one out, Jonel Pacheco singled and Nick Evans was issued an intentional walk to load the bases. Leivi Ventura, Castro and Arroyo all had RBI singles before Gamero's two-run liner up the middle pushed the lead to seven.

"I've been working on my approach with my hitting coach, Luis Natera," Gamero said. "He's been helping me get my hands through the ball and (swinging) on the same level. Now that I'm getting an opportunity to play, I want to make sure I stay focused all the time."

Jim Wladyka struggled in the ninth for the Suns, issuing three consecutive one-out walks before being lifted. German Marte came on and nearly ended the game with a line-drive double play, but hit Sanchez with a pitch and gave up Brandon Allen's two-run double to right to make it 8-5.

Tomasiewicz came on with Orlando representing the tying run and coaxed a popup to Castro to end the game.

"Wladyka has been a strike thrower for us all season. He walked three today, but that's not going the change how I use him," Cacciatore said. "The same with Marte. You don't like to see that happen and we were fortunate to have a good lead, but it might help them out and get them to come in and try that much harder the next time."

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