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Abercrombie hits #1 in Carolina


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Lookouts thump Mudcats



Thursday, July 07, 2005


ZEBULON ? The Fourth of July hoopla has passed. The second half of the Southern League season is only a few weeks old. Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan have already played, and no more big names are on the marquee. The public address announcer's voice began to echo off the empty seats at Five County Stadium on Wednesday.


Summer's proverbial dog days have indeed settled on the Carolina Mudcats.


Manager Gary Allenson did his best to mix things up Wednesday, playing musical positions with his players. But in front of only 2,197 paying fans ? and a significantly smaller crowd actually in attendance ? the Mudcats did little to stir things on the field in a 7-2 loss to Chattanooga.


"That's exactly what it is ? it's the dog days," Allenson said. "It's humid out. It's hot out. ... There's a tendency for one game to run into the next, to run into the next. And it's a time when guys can waste at-bats because they're not concentrating. That's what you can't do."


Of the Mudcats' eight position players, only three started in the same positions Wednesday as they did Tuesday.


But in the 19th of 36 meetings between Chattanooga (6-8 in the second half) and Carolina (7-6) this season, the Lookouts provided most of the excitement, recording 10 hits and turning in one head-scratching dose of deja vu.


Ryan Hanigan led off both the second and fourth innings by beating out infield singles - both times hitting the ball to the hole between shortstop and third. The following batter, Stephen Smitherman, delivered a pair of more authoritative hits to follow up.


Smitherman's two two-run home runs off Carolina starter Luke Lockwood (2-4) propelled the Lookouts to a 4-1 lead in the fourth. On this night, that was enough.


"Lockwood made two mistakes to the same guy," Allenson said. "He didn't pitch that bad ? just to one guy."


There were a few gems in an otherwise sleepy midsummer night. James Shanks, who suffered through much of June with an injury, had three hits, including two doubles.


And Carolina's newest player, Reggie Abercrombie, made an impact in his first game with the Mudcats. Called up because of Eric Reed's promotion to Triple-A Albuquerque Wednesday, Abercrombie had a solo home run in the fourth, stole a base, and offered up an assist from the outfield.


"I'm just trying to come out here and help keep the chemistry going," Abercrombie said. "Any time you get the first game out of the way, now you can just go relax and play."


This time of year, Abercrombie is a welcome spark.


"It's nice to have a new guy on the block," Allenson said. "I've heard (Abercrombie) plays hard. He's obviously got a little bit of power, too. I don't know if that ball he hit has come down yet."

Notes: Nursing a sore hamstring, right fielder Jeremy Hermida sat out as a precautionary measure ... Hermida and catcher Jason Hill on Wednesday were named starters on the North Division squad in the Southern League All-Star game, scheduled for July 13 in Mobile, Ala. Hermida will bat third; Hill will hit ninth.

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