Originally created 07/24/99

Jackets pound Hagerstown



GreenJackets manager Billy Gardner has been known to tinker with the batting order from time to time.

He may have finally found a combination worth sticking with for a while.

For a third straight night, Gardner sent out a lineup featuring second baseman Carlos Leon in the leadoff spot, third baseman Alex Ahumada batting second, catcher Rudy Pena batting eighth and left fielder Jose Pena batting ninth.

For a third straight night, the Jackets pounded Hagerstown's pitching, rolling to a 10-4 victory Friday night at The Lake.

"You've got to play around with your lineup until you get the right combination," said Gardner, whose Jackets have scored 26 runs and totaled 33 hits in the last three games.

"Normally, I like to have a set lineup but I've been trying to find the right mix where we can put some offense out there day-in and day-out. What we've got now looks pretty good."

For the past three nights, Leon has been the ultimate table-setter. The Jackets' new leadoff man went 2-for-4 on Friday and is 4-for-8 with four runs scored in the series.

Ahumada, the Jackets' No. 2 hitter who belted a grand slam on Thursday, went 1-for-3 with two RBI on Friday. He is 5-for-11 with nine RBI in the series.

No. 8-hitter Rudy Pena went 3-for-4 with two RBI on Friday and is now 11-for-13 in the series, while Jose Pena is 3-for-11, including his first home run of the season on Friday.

Every Jacket starter had at least one hit.

Nobody appreciates the new-found offense more than starter Mike Mowel.

The 20-year-old Mowel (5-11) was staked to an early cushion and turned in a solid performance to win for only the second time in his last six starts.

"It makes your job a lot easier when your teammates go out there and give you the kind of support they gave me tonight," said the right-hander, who is second in the South Atlantic League in losses.

"I've been struggling a lot, so it's nice to be able to go out there with a lead and be positive."

After lasting just two innings in his last start July 18 vs. Charleston -- when he surrendered five runs (three earned) on six hits and took the loss -- Mowel knew it was important to bounce back Friday.

Despite the grueling heat, he maintained his energy, tossing six strong innings, allowing three runs on five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.

"It was important for Mike to have a solid outing after the last one," pitching coach Larry Pierson said. "I think this will help his confidence a great deal."

NOTES:

Hagerstown manager Rolando Pino apparently wasn't happy that shortstop Felipe Lopez stole second and third base in the eighth inning with his club down by six. Pino promptly replaced Lopez, the Blue Jays' first-round pick (8th overall) in 1998. ... Former Braves starBob Horner will be at The Lake tonight signing autographs prior to the final game of the series vs. Hagerstown. Tonight is also team photo giveaway night for the first 1,000 fans through the gate.

Rob Mueller covers minor league baseball for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3425 or robm99@hotmail.com.