Enrique Hernandez could not have waited any longer to be a hero.
With two out in the bottom of the ninth, and a 3-2 count, Hernandez collected the Cannons' third hit of the game. His solo home run over the left field fence sent the 3,514 at Prince William County Stadium into a frenzy and gave the Cannons a 1-0 victory over the Salem Buccaneers yesterday.
Batting sixth in the order, Hernandez fouled off three pitches from reliever Tim McDowell (3-4) before drilling a fastball for his fifth home run of the season, and his 21st hit in his last 23 games.
The Cannons (2-1) had to overcome a fine pitching performance from Salem's Stan Fansler, who has struggled with a 5.25 earned run average. Nine months ago Fansler wondered if he would ever pitch again after having arthroscopic surgery for a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
After not being able to throw until January, bad luck struck again last month, when he twisted his left ankle in practice. He also pitched with bursitis in his right shoulder. Those woes were certainly forgotten yesterday, as Fansler mixed his sinker, curve and fastball to hold the Cannons to one hit through seven innings, before being relieved by McDowell.
Cannons starter Cullen Hartzog, also recovering from shoulder problems, was on a strict pitch limit, prompting Manager Gary Dembo to lift him in favor of Richard Polak in the seventh. Hartzog gave up only four hits. Mike Gardella (3-1) pitched the ninth for the win.