from Will Cornelius Hoppers’ media:
LASATER HOMERS LATE, HOPPERS STILL FALL
GREENSBORO, NCâ€”Ben Lasater lifted a line drive home run in the Hoppersâ€™ eighth inning, but couldnâ€™t spark enough offense to overcome Lake Countyâ€™s two-run lead, falling to the Captains 5-3 in front of an Independence Day crowd of 10, 031.
The Hoppersâ€™ offensive woes can be attributed in large part to the strong pitching performance of Lake County starter TJ McFarland (5-3). McFarland allowed one run in the second frame, but settled in to douse the Hoppersâ€™ offense in his final three innings of work.
After striking out in order in the opening frame, the Hoppers pushed across their first run off McFarland when Justin Jacobs singled to centerfield and came around to score on Torre Langleyâ€™s double off the right-field wall.
McFarland induced a groundball to end the inning, stranding Langley at second to keep the game knotted at one run apiece. In fact, Langley wasnâ€™t the only Hopper to be left on the base paths in tonightâ€™s contest, as the Hoppers squandered many scoring opportunities by going 0-5 with runners in scoring position and leaving six men on base.
The Captains faired slightly better in the battersâ€™ box, using a two-run fourth inning to catapult themselves to a three-run lead. Designated Hitter Nate Recknagel began the inning with a line drive up the middle and came around to touch the plate after Donnie Webb deposited Johnsonâ€™s offering over the left field wall.
The pair of home runs by Lake County proved to be the difference in the contest, but felt out of place, as the blasts marked the only home runs Johnson has surrendered during his 2009 campaign.
Another pair of runs in the sixth inning helped the Captains to a 5-1 lead, as a botched double play ball plated the two runs after reliever Rodolfo Encarnacion nearly escaped the bases loaded jam.
But the Grasshoppers would rally back in the sixth inning to scratch one more run after right fielder Kevin Mattison doubled to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a routine groundout off the bat of Lasater. With Jacobs in the box, a wild pitch brought Mattison home and cut the Captainâ€™s lead to one run.
Mattisonâ€™s sixth inning double proved to be his only hit of the evening, but helped to extend his current hitting streak to nine games. Mattison also scored a run in tonightâ€™s contest, but he and the Hoppers ultimately fell short against Lake County in their series opener.
Even Lasaterâ€™s team-leading 14th homer couldnâ€™t rally the Hopperâ€™s bats in the eighth inning, as the July 4th fireworks proved to be the only spark late in tonightâ€™s ballgame.
The Grasshoppers (39-40) have now dropped three straight and have fallen below .500 for the first time since their 4-5 mark during the second week of the season. They will try and even things back up tomorrow when they continue their current series with game two against Lake County.
Sunday afternoonâ€™s contest is scheduled to begin at 4:05 p.m., with gates opening at 3:00 p.m.
Media Relations, Intern
Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball