from Will Cornelius Hoppers’ media:
Hoppersâ€™ Offense Strikes Early And Often To Win Finale
GREENSBORO, NC â€“ The struggling Greensboro Grasshoppers offense came through in a big way on Wednesday, as they provided plenty of offensive support for lefty Brad Hand (5-11), who pitched his way past the Sand Gnats to pick up a 13-2 win in the series finale.
Hand, who fanned six in the afternoon contest, turned in his second straight quality outing. The lefty hurler worked five innings to allow just one run on four hits. Hand did issue three free passes on the day, but worked past the base runners with the help of a caught stealing and double play.
The Sand Gnats posted their lone run off Hand in the opening frame, where they used a lead off triple to put Jefrey Marte in scoring position early. Josh Satin grounded out to short one batter later, but picked up the RBI to give Savannah one first-inning run.
The Hoppers, who have had issues responding offensively, came right back in the bottom of the inning with a run of their own. A lead off single and hit batsman put two runners on the bases with nobody out, but two straight strike outs by Savannah starter Eric Beaulac (6-6) looked grim for the Hoppers.
However, lead off man Paul Gran manufactured the first run by himself, as the third baseman swiped third base and later came around to score on a throwing error by the Sand Gnatsâ€™ pitcher.
After the Hoppers tied the contest at one run apiece, Hand went into shutdown mode. He blanked the Sand Gants offense over his remaining four innings while his own offense tagged Beaulac for three more runs.
Right-handed reliever Brandon Todd came on for three innings after Handâ€™s exit, and further held the Savannah bats in check. Todd allowed just one hit over his three innings of work, but did surrender one run in the sixth inning.
But the Sand Gnatâ€™s one run in the sixth inning came at the wrong time, as the Grasshoppers answered back with five runs in the bottom half of the frame.
Jake Smolinski began the sixth-inning hit parade with a single, and moved around to second base when Justin Bass ripped a single of his own. Emilio Ontiveros was next, as the short stop laced a line drive past a leaping third baseman to extend the inning.
Kevin Mattison highlighted the Hoppersâ€™ sixth with his 15th home run of the season, a towering two-out blast to right field. Mattison, who had hit only one home run in the second half before the start of this home stand, has suddenly caught fire. The Kernersville native has belted four home runs in his last five games, and now owns the team lead in long balls.
Mattisonâ€™s home run extended the lead to seven runs, but the Hoppers wouldnâ€™t stop there, as in the next inning Torre Langley decided to get on the home run train as well.
After Savannah pitcher Tim Smith loaded the bases with a walk, single, and error, Langley took his offering over the wall in deep right centerfield. The grand slam is the first of the season for any Hopper, and gave the home team 13 runs in the series finale.
Todd finished his day with a perfect eighth inning, and handed the ball to shutdown man Pete Andrelczyk to record the final three outs of the series. Andrelczyk did indeed hold the Sand Gnats, as he stuck out one batter en route to his 1-2-3 inning of work.
With the win, the Hoppers (47-55) managed a series split with the visiting Sand Gnats, and finished their current home stand having won three of the eight games. They look to continue their offensive success through their off day, when they travel to Maryland to take on the Delmarva Shorebirds for another four-game set.
The Hoppers will return home on Tuesday, August 4th to host the Hickory Crawdads for four games.
First pitch of the August 4th showdown is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Media Relations, Intern
Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball