Originally created 08/09/99

Jackets top Sand Gnats



Angel Santos was barely out of diapers when George Brett went ballistic in the Pine Tar Game.

Luckily for the GreenJackets shortstop, there was no real controversy in Sunday's 6-2 victory over the Savannah Sand Gnats.

But for a moment, when Sand Gnats manager Paul Carey challenged Santos' second-inning home run, you couldn't help but wonder. Was the 19-year-old infielder about to recreate the wild scene involving Brett and a sticky bat at Yankee Stadium 16 years ago?

"I remember that game," Santos said of the infamous Brett home run that was disallowed because of excess pine tar on his bat. "But I did not think the umpire (Darin Williams) was going to call me out. I knew it was a home run."

After the Pine Tar game debacle, baseball changed the rule which stated a batter would be called out if he used a bat with too much pine tar. Santos was simply instructed by Williams to remove the excess pine tar from the bat or use another bat.

"They modified the rules and I think it's appropriate," Jackets manager Billy Gardner said. "I immediately thought about the George Brett incident, but I knew Angel was OK."

So was starter Jason Norton (8-5). The right-hander tossed six innings of three-hit ball and allowed just one unearned run for the victory.

Sand Gnats third baseman David Meliah, who went 3-for-4, had all three of the hits allowed by Norton.

"Lately, I've been struggling a bit and had been really ineffective with my changeup," said Norton, who lowered his ERA to 2.51 -- fifth-best in the South Atlantic League.

"I worked on my change the past week with (pitching coach) Larry Pierson, and I tried what we worked on tonight, and it went OK."

The solo blast to left-center by Santos, his 11th, off Gnats starter Melvin Brazoban, set the tone for the first-place Jackets. They added another run in the second when Jose Pena scored on a wild pitch, then added three more in the third, keyed by a two-run double by Pena.

"It makes it so much easier for me to pitch when we get six runs on board early," Norton said.