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Burgess' blast leads Suns over Lakewood

April 22, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

Michael Burgess has leadership where he'd like -- home runs -- and where he'd like not to -- strikeouts -- when it comes to offensive categories for the Hagerstown Suns.

On Monday night at Municipal Stadium, Burgess had one of each and it was the home run that outweighed the other as the Suns downed Lakewood 6-2 in the opener of a three-game series.

Burgess launched his fourth four-bagger of the year deep over the right-field wall in the bottom of the first inning that boosted Hagerstown (8-10) to a 3-0 first-inning lead, which was enough for starting pitcher and winner Terrence Engles and two relievers to protect.

"Burgess had some pressure on him early to hit and (hitting coach Tony Tarasco) has been working with him on his mechanics," said Suns manager Darnell Coles. "The biggest thing is to hit with his head still."

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Burgess, who hails from the same high school in Tampa, Fla., as Gary Sheffield and former big leaguer Dwight Gooden, delivered his blow off Lakewood starter Jake Diekman.

"I got a fastball down and in and turned on it," said Burgess of the lefty-against-lefty situation. "I'm always looking to get a fastball. It was good to get us off to a fast start."

Francisco Placensia got the offense rolling with a game-opening single and moved to second on a groundout before scoring the first run on a single by Aaron Seuss, setting the table Burgess' blast.

Engles (3-0), making his second start of the year, allowed Lakewood a third-inning run on a walk, single and sacrifice fly by Derrick Mitchell. He allowed only two hits in his five innings and has allowed only 10 baserunners in 15 innings.

"I thought (Engles) threw very well and he threw hard," said Coles. "He had been getting a little over the top, but tonight he pitched well."

The Suns made it 4-1 in the fifth. Plasencia hit a leadoff double, moved to third on a single by Daniel Lyons and was held there by Coles before left fielder Michael Taylor bobbled the ball to send Plasencia scampering home.

It was Plasencia's second double of the game and his three hits brought his hit total to 11 on the year, along with making a bid for more playing time.

"We've had other draft picks playing and we've had to find a spot for (Plasencia)," said Coles. "We've worked on rotations for everyone to play and he's ignited us lately and he'll be back in there, even against lefties."

With Randy Matias on in his second inning of relief in the top of the seventh, the Suns dodged a huge bullet thanks to a Lakewood snafu on the basepaths.

A walk, single and sacrifice bunt gave Lakewood runners at second and third with one out. Joel Naughton then lifted a looper out over second base in which second baseman Jake Smolinski made a superb running catch. However, Travis Mattair obviously lost track of outs and raced to third, only to be doubled up by the Suns.

"We caught a break there," said Coles, as the Suns held Lakewood at 4-2.

Hagerstown busted the game open in the eighth as Bill Rhinehart singled, Burgess walked, Steve Englund singled to load the sacks and Smolinski rewarded himself for the fine defensive effort with a two-run single.

Martin Beno came on to work the final two innings for his second save, despite plunking two batters in the ninth.

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