from Will Cornelius Hoppers’ media:
Grasshoppers Click On All Cylinders In Savannah Opener
GREENSBORO, NC — The Grasshoppersâ€™ offense was back in business Sunday afternoon, as the slumping bats came alive to pick up nine runs on 14 hits, and down the Savannah Sand Gnats in their series opener 9-2.
Ben Lasater and Daniel Pertusati paved the way with three hits, but proved to be only part of the puzzle, as seven of the nine starters finished the contest with at least one base knock, while five of the seven turned in multiple-hit performances.
However, as much offensive firepower as the Hoppers brought to Sundayâ€™s match up, it was the Sand Gnats who jumped on the board first. Designated hitter Jordan Abruzzo drove a Tom Koehler (5-4) offering over the right field wall to help Savannah to an early one-run lead.
But the Hoppers came back with some offense of their own in the bottom half of the inning, scoring two runs after beginning the inning with a pair of singles.
With Lasater and Jake Smolinski on the base paths, Savannah starter induced a taylor made double play ball, but a bobble mid-transfer forced the ground ball to stand as a fielderâ€™s choice, leaving runners at the corners with one out.
The next hitter, Torre Langley, grounded a single past the second baseman to bring home the Hoppersâ€™ first run of the contest, and later crossed the plate himself after Pertusati delivered an RBI single to left field.
Holding onto their one run lead, Koehler began to carve up the Sand Gnats offense. He finished his day after seven strong innings, where the big right-hander scattered five hits while fanning seven Savannah hitters.
The Hoppers helped Koehler with two consecutive big innings in the fifth and sixth, where they plated three runs each time to give their starter a comfortable seven-run advantage.
Paul Gran led off the fifth frame with a double, and moved around to third when Kevin Mattison reached on an error. Both runners moved up 90 feet when Savannah reliever Tim Smith balked. Two more singles and an error brought around another two runs, giving the Hoppers all the momentum heading into the next inning.
The sixth inning saw a similar pattern develop, as Emilio Ontiveros reached on an error in the infield to begin the inning. A hit batsman and botched double play ball later, the Hoppers plated the innings first run, and set themselves up to bring two more in with two more base knocks.
With a seven-run lead under his belt, Koehler tossed the game up to his bullpen, handing the ball to lefty Andrew Loomis for a third of an inning. Brandon Todd followed Loomis to close the door on the Sand Gnatsâ€™ one-run eighth inning.
Todd would return to the mound in the ninth to finish things up, but did so after regaining the cozy seven-run lead, thanks to a towering solo shot by Mattison in the bottom half of the previous inning. Mattison, who had gone without a big fly for exactly one month, has now crushed two in as many days.
With the win, the Hoppers (46-53) have taken the opening game of the Savannah series, and look to continue their success tomorrow when they host the Sand Gnats for game two.
First pitch of Mondayâ€™s contest is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
To check out the full box score from tonightâ€™s game, click here.
Media Relations, Intern
Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball