Bill Hass on Hoppers Baseball:Northern race continues to tighten

Posted by Andy Durham on June 9, 2012 at 11:10 pm under Professional | Comments are off for this article

Saturday night it was Lexington, Kentucky 4, Greensboro Grasshoppers 1 in 10 Innings….

from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball at

Northern race continues to tighten

The things that were so easy for the Hoppers in their first 40 games have now gotten excruciatingly difficult.

Greensboro tumbled to its fifth straight loss Saturday night, falling to Lexington 4-1 in 10 innings. Hagerstown continued to stay hot, beating Kannapolis 11-6 for its seventh straight win. The Suns closed within 1 1/2 games with eight remaining in the first half of the SAL’s Northern Division race.

When the Hoppers bolted to 30 wins in their first 40 games, they were relaxed at the plate, doing all the right things and recording a team average that peaked at .299. Since then they’re 10-12 and batters have tensed up, becoming frustrated and overanxious. They have managed only four runs in the last five games.

“We’re trying to make things happen instead of getting good pitches to hit,” said manager David Berg. “We’re not being selective. Guys are swinging at 2-and-0 pitches just because it’s 2-and-0, trying to make something happen. Everyone is trying to end the slump right now instead of doing the little things.”

The Hoppers were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position Saturday, making them 0-for-20 in that situation against the Legends. They loaded the bases with one out in the sixth and couldn’t score. They stranded runners on third base in the fifth inning and the ninth.

“That’s a chronic thing lately,” Berg said.

Berg has tried a couple of different things to no avail — a new pair of shoes and the beginnings of a goatee went for naught Saturday. From a practical standpoint, he does see one thing that might help.

“Instead of forcing things, just ease up and put the ball in play,” he said. “Don’t try to do too much.”

As he noted, that’s easier said than done. But he pointed to Lexington’s Chan Jong Moon as an example. The No. 9 hitter in the Legends lineup came to bat with two runners on base in the 10th inning. He worked the count to 3-and-2 against Austin Brice, then lined a home run, his first of the season, to left field.

“The count got to 3-and-2, you know the fastball is coming and he just got the barrel on it,” Berg said. “He didn’t try to do too much with it.”

Brice had pitched four shutout innings in piggyback relief of Jose Urena, who allowed only one hit — a solo home run — in five innings.

So is there a cure for the ailing Hoppers’ bats? Berg thinks so.

“One big inning and everyone will relax,” he said. “But until that happens ….”

Adam Conley will take the mound for Sunday’s 4 p.m. game at NewBridge Bank Park.

*****Again, be sure to check out Bill on Baseball at……

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