Originally created 08/17/00

GreenJackets rout Hagerstown



Rodriguez and Rodriguez aren't partners in a local law firm, but they were on the case Wednesday night for the GreenJackets.

Right fielder Carlos Rodriquez belted a pair of home runs and drove in four runs, while hitting coach Victor Rodriguez successfully played manager for the second straight night in the Jackets' 6-1 victory over the Hagerstown Suns at The Lake.

"The ballclub was in good hands with Victor," said Jackets manager Mike Boulanger, who handled the pitchers the past two nights in the absence of pitching coach Bob Kipper, handing over the third-base coaching duties to Martinez.

"And then you've got Carlos," Boulanger added. "He was outstanding at the plate tonight."

For the 23-year-old Rodriguez, the mission to finish his third season as a Red Sox farmhand on a high note continues without a hitch.

The native of Cuba belted a towering two-run home run to left-center field in the first inning, then drilled his second homer of the game and 15th of the season, a three-run shot off Hagerstown starter Marcos Sandoval, in the fifth inning to give the Jackets a 5-1 lead.

That was plenty of run support, what with the combined four-hit pitching performance by starter Rick Riccobono and relievers Corey Spencer and Lance Surridge.

Riccobono started and pitched well enough to win, but struggled at times with his command. He was removed after 4 2/3 innings, one out shy of qualifying for a victory.

The 20-year-old right-hander surrendered the Suns' lone run, a solo home run in the fifth by shortstop Brandon Jackson -- who entered the game fourth in the South Atlantic League in batting at .321. But the run was unearned because of an error by shortstop Freddy Sanchez that prolonged the inning.

After the homer, Riccobono issued consecutive walks and was relieved one batter later after Suns catcher Jose Umbria reached on an error by first baseman Luis Garcia that loaded the bases.

"That was the only downer on the night, not being able to get Rico the win," Boulanger said. "He threw 101 pitches. That's a lot of pitches for five innings. We had to take him out."

Spencer retired the next batter, Shannon Carter, on a fielder's choice to end the threat, and went on to toss two more innings of no-hit relief to pick up the victory and improve to 8-2.

Surridge took over in the eighth and finished with two strong innings of relief to close the door on Hagerstown.

Rodriguez finished 3-for-4 with four RBI, raising his average to .302. Chaz Terni belted a solo home run, his third of the season, and third baseman Stephen Minus finished 2-for-3, raising his average to .301.

Center fielder Lew Ford, whose quest to become the first player in franchise history to win a South Atlantic League bating title, finished 2-for-4, raising his average to .334. The 24-year-old star entered the night leading Hickory's J.R. House in the batting race .333 to .330.

The hitting success of players like Ford and Rodriguez is what drives the elder Rodriguez. Despite being approached by the Red Sox and other organizations to manage in the minors, the 39-year-old Rodriguez says being a hitting coach is what he loves most.

"I enjoy working with the hitters closely every day, and I wouldn't have the opportunity to do that as a manager," said Rodriguez, a native of Puerto Rico and no relation to the Jackets' surging No. 3-hitter.

Rodriguez has been hailed by Boulanger all season for his work with the hitters, and now can add undefeated manager to his resume.

With seven wins in their past eight games, including two straight to open the four-game series against Hagerstown, the Jackets (31-21) remain 1' games behind Savannah in the race for the second-half Southern Division title. The Sand Gnats maintained their lead with a 10-4 victory over Greensboro on the road Wednesday night.

Kipper is expected to rejoin the Jackets today. The former major leaguer spent the past three days at his home in Greer, S.C., where his wife Kristin is recovering from an allergic reaction to an insect bite that sent her to the hospital on Monday.

JACKETS TONIGHT

Vs.: Hagerstown Suns (Blue Jays)

Where: Lake Olmstead Stadium

When: 7:05 p.m.

Probable starters: Hagerstown -- RHP Ryan Houston (2-0, 0.77 ERA); Augusta -- Jerome Gamble (3-3, 2.49 ERA).

Tickets: $7, $6, $5, SeniorsChildren 4-12, Military $4.

Promotion: Thirsty Thursday -- Two beers for the price of one.