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Hagerstown gets serious, beats West Virginia in a laugher

May 03, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns starred in a situation comedy on Friday.

They played to the situations of the game and practically turned it into a comedy.

Aaron Seuss had three hits and drove in six runs -- four coming on a sixth-inning grand slam -- after Bill Rhinehart started it all off with a two-run homer in the first to lead the Suns to a 12-3 victory over West Virginia.

"We had a meeting before the game about situational hitting to give you a chance to do things," Suns manager Darnell Coles said. "You have to micro-manage some and play to the situation that is presented."

The top four hitters in Hagerstown's batting order -- which includes Rhinehart hitting third and Seuss fourth -- came through in most situations to allow starter Jeff Mandel to turn in a strong performance.

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The top half of the Suns' order went 7-for-15 -- including five extra-base hits -- with 10 RBIs and 11 runs scored off a trio of West Virginia pitchers. Mandel (2-1) used the early 7-0 lead to grind through six innings, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts to end Hagerstown's two-game losing streak.

Rhinehart opened the festivities with the first of three Hagerstown home runs -- a two-run blast over the right-field wall. Lyons drew a one-out walk off Power starter Evan Anundsen (2-3) and trotted home ahead of Rhinehart.

"I just saw the ball well today," said Rhinehart, who finished with two hits, a sacrifice fly and three RBIs. "We have been getting a lot of work the last few days and we are starting to come around."

Hagerstown (13-14) added three runs in the third and two in the fourth to build the 7-0 lead. Seuss hit a two-run double to right and Michael Burgess added an RBI single in the third. Dan Lyons had an RBI triple to right in the fourth and scored on Rhinehart's sacrifice fly.

The Suns held a 7-1 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth when Seuss was presented with the ultimate hitting position. He came to the plate after Power reliever Pedro Lambertus opened the inning by walking the first three batters.

He took advantage of the situation and stroked a drifting fly to left that cleared the fence for the grand slam and the 11-1 lead.

"I wouldn't have been in the situation if it weren't for the guys ahead of me," said Seuss, who also had two doubles. "I was just going up there looking for something to hit. Even in that situation, you have to stay within yourself. When I first hit it, I thought it was a sacrifice fly."

Instead he hit the jackpot.

"The good thing about that situation is that we had the lead," Coles said. "You have to pay attention to the situation. If the bases are loaded, you are generally going to get a fastball and you want to try and elevate it. In this park, with the wind, it has a chance to go out."

Stephen Englund added a solo home run in the seventh to close the Suns' scoring.

West Virginia (11-17) scored once in the sixth when Jonathan Lucroy doubled and eventually came around on Mandel's wild pitch. The Power added two runs in the eighth off Edulin Abreu, who pitched three innings for his first save, on Zealous Wheeler's single and Caleb Gindl's grounder.

"Tonight was a great night, but it is one of many we have left," Coles said.

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