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Suns take what they get to beat Kannapolis

May 17, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

When it comes to contributions, size doesn't matter.

Every little bit helps, while big helpings are fulfilling.

On Friday, Colton Willems did more than he has and Jake Smolinski didn't do as much as he could have and it meant all the difference for the Hagerstown Suns.

Willems became the first Hagers-town starter to pitch into the seventh inning and Smolinski provided the go-ahead hit in the three-run sixth inning to lift the Suns to an 8-5 victory over Kannapolis.

"We've been swinging the bats well," said Suns manager Darnell Coles. "And we finally got a starter give us more than six innings ... that was big. But Kannapolis is a good team. We have to keep it going."

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The Suns (20-20) swatted 14 hits with each starter collecting at least one. Aaron Seuss had three and Boomer Whiting added two to the total, but none may have been bigger than Smolinski's.

Hagerstown owned a 5-0 lead after two innings but Kannapolis had fought back for a tie by the middle of the sixth.

Stephen King led off the sixth with a single off Intimidators starter Nathan Jones and took second on a throwing error by Kannapolis shortstop Greg Paimi, who caught Michael Burgess' pop-up and threw it away while trying to double King off first.

With two outs, Smolinski ripped a double to right-center to score King. It came after making solid contact in his first two at-bats -- a deep fly to center in the second and a solid liner to short in the fourth -- but this time he got his reward.

"I didn't get the chance to move the runner the first time (in the fourth inning), but I got the chance to do it again," Smolinski said. "I was just trying to see the ball and tried not to do too much with it."

Smolinski came around on Travis Reagan's homer down the right-field line to give the Suns the 8-5 lead and enough for Willems to last for one more inning.

Willems (3-3), one of the Washington Nationals' first-round draft picks from 2006, wasn't masterful, but was effective in his seven innings. The right-hander allowed five runs on four hits -- including Jose Martinez's three-run shot in the fourth -- while walking one and striking out three.

"He is getting better," Coles said. "I had him last year (at Vermont) and he was solid and he was an all-star. He's getting back into form and his fastball is getting back to where it was a couple of years ago. He still has to go out and make the pitches."

A strong wind to right helped both teams offensively and tested them defensively.

The Suns took a 1-0 lead in the first when shortstop Dan Lyons drew a one-out walk and stole second before scoring on Tim Pahuta's single up the middle.

The lead jumped to 5-0 in the second when Burgess led off with his 10th homer of the season and Seuss hit his first of two doubles. With two outs, Whiting tripled to center with some help from center fielder Sergio Morales, who fell while trying to make the play, and Lyons followed with a two-run shot to right.

The Intimidators tied the game with a run in the third when Paimi tripled and scored on John Curtis' grounder. Martinez tacked three runs on in the fourth with his homer and drove in the tying run with a double in the sixth.

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