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Daniel is a hit without one to lift Suns

May 15, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

Mike Daniel became a silent assassin.

The Hagerstown outfielder got around the bases without a sound and crossed the plate before Delmarva knew what hit it.

Daniel didn't even have the crack of the bat to work off of as he circled the bases without the benefit of a hit as the Suns scored the winning run in the eighth inning Monday for their third straight victory, 4-3 over the Shorebirds.

"We got lucky," Daniel said. "We were blessed to win this game."

A little innovative, too.

Daniel, who started the season as the leadoff hitter because of his speed, turned a strikeout into a game-winning home run.

It started on what should have been a strikeout for the second out of the inning. Daniel swung over a Wilfrido Perez pitch in the dirt that got by catcher Michael Pierce. Daniel legged it to first as the ball rolled up the netting behind the plate.

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With Chris Marrero - who hit a massive two-run home run in the sixth - up, Daniel got the steal sign from manager Tommy Herr.

"Tommy gave me the steal sign, and with a lefty out of the bullpen, I got a good jump," Daniel said. "Fortunately, he went to the plate."

Pierce's throw to second went through to the outfield for an error, allowing Daniel to take third.

"I saw the ball get by out of the corner of my eye and saw it was free when I popped up, so I kept going," Daniel said.

The Shorebirds elected to intentionally walk Marrero to pitch to first baseman Brent McMillan.

Daniel got his instructions and reminders from Herr at third right before Perez uncorked a slider in the dirt. The ball bounced off Pierce to the right side of the field, allowing Daniel to sprint home for the lead.

"While I was over at third, Tommy reminded me to watch for the slider because he had a good one," Daniel said. "That pitcher had good stuff and a sharp slider that went into the dirt. When it hit, it was decision time. I saw it scoot to the side and went."

Herr proved prophetic.

"(Perez) has a great slider and good sliders go down," Herr said. "I made (Daniel) aware it might happen and when it bounced up, it was all Mike."

It put a cap on a game of sharp contrasts for the Suns, who have routinely been on the wrong end of one-run decisions this season. It also comes on the heels of two games where Hagerstown scored a combined 24 runs.

"We have got to learn how to win these games, too," Herr said.

Lost in the silence were the creditable outings by Suns starter Cory VanAllen and reliever Josh Wilkie, who got the win.

Right fielder Justin Maxwell threw out Pierce at the plate in the fifth, scooping up Bobby Andrews' single and throwing to catcher Jhonathan Solano, who blocked to plate and retired Pierce easily for the third out.

Marrero's home run - his eighth of the season - was the most convincing hit of the night.

Marrero, who earlier extended his hitting streak to six games, came up after Daniel singled off Shorebirds starter Pedro Beato with one out in the sixth. Delmarva called on Perez, who entered the game having thrown five no-hit innings this season.

After a borderline ball on the first pitch, Marrero leaned into a second-pitch fastball and drove it over the wall in left center for a 3-2 lead.

"That guy hadn't given up a hit and has been lights out for them," Herr said. "Chris just got a fastball and centered it."

Delmarva took a 1-0 lead in the first when Andrews led off the game with a first-pitch double down the left-field line off VanAllen. After Danny Figueroa laid down a sacrifice bunt, Brandon Snyder singled to center for the RBI.

The Suns scratched out a run in the fifth off Beato with the help of two walks before Stephen King's single.

Snyder homered to center in the sixth to give Delmarva a 2-1 lead before Marrero's blast.

Delmarva tied the game in the seventh on Miguel Abreu's fluke double to center that Daniel lost in the sky. Stu Musselwhite's bunt and Pierce's sacrifice fly tied the game.

VanAllen struck out five in six innings, while Wilkie got the win with three innings of two-hit relief, striking out two.

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