from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball at www.gsohoppers.com….
A page borrowed from 2011
Maybe there are a few victories from 2011 lurking in the locker room of the 2012 Greensboro Grasshoppers.
Or maybe the 2012 Hoppers are just making their own history.
At any rate, the Hoppers used the formula concocted by last year’s SAL champions to pull out an 8-7 victory over Delmarva in 10 innings Thursday night at NewBridge Bank Park.
It’s still early in the season — 55 games remain in the first half — but the Hoppers moved into first place in the Northern Division of the SAL with the win. They’re 10-5, half a game ahead of Hickory and a game ahead of the Shorebirds, who had won five straight.
“Delmarva was on a roll and feeling pretty good,” said Hoppers manager David Berg. “This was our first game back (after the road trip) and there was a good crowd, so maybe we can gain some momentum from this and get on a roll.”
The Hoppers committed three errors, made some silly baserunning mistakes and couldn’t hold an early 6-3 lead. And it looked bad in the bottom of the ninth when Delmarva’s Zach Davies, working his fifth inning of relief, retired the first two hitters with a 7-6 lead.
That’s when the 2011 formula kicked in.
Brent Keys drew a walk, then stole second and third and scored on Ryan Rieger’s single to right field to tie the game. It was daring baserunning by Keys, but it paid off. He might not have scored from second on Rieger’s hit.
“He’s got good speed and it was a time to try and make something happen,” Berg said, “so he had a green light.”
In the top of the 10th, reliever Kevin Cravey found himself in a mess when, with one out, Glynn Davis singled, stole second and went to third on a throwing error. With the infield drawn in, Cravey got John Ruettiger to ground to Barnes at second. Barnes fired home to catcher Wilfredo Gimenez and Davis put on the brakes and retreated, but Gimenez threw to Josh Adams at third for the tag. Cravey got the third out on a fly ball.
That set the stage for a game-winning rally, 2011-style. With two outs and Terrence Dayleg on first, Gimenez hit a slow roller to third. Jason Esposito of the Shorebirds scooped it up but Gimenez, hustling all the way, beat the throw.
“For a guy who doesn’t run that well, he sure got down the line,” Berg said.
Barnes delivered a sharp base hit to left field and Berg waved Dayleg home. Ruettiger came up with the ball quickly but his throw to the plate was way off line and Dayleg scored easily to end the game.
“The ball was in (Ruettiger’s) glove before (Dayleg) even hit third base,” Berg said. “But with two outs and a tie game, you take a chance.”
Barnes is now hitting .327 on the season.
“I was just trying to get the job done,” he said. “I wanted to see something up (in the strike zone). I was looking for a fastball and got a changeup, but it was up.”
Barnes played infield in high school and catcher in college and is converting back to infield this season.
“He’s just a good little player,” Berg said, “a good hitter, tremendous baserunner and the kind of guy you’ve got to have on a team.”