from Bill Hass on Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball at www.gsohoppers.com……
Nappo adapts to the bullpen
It’s a little different for Greg Nappo this season.
Last year with the Hoppers he pitched in nine games and started six. This summer he has appeared in 30 games, 28 of them out of the bullpen, where he’s the only left-hander. Like everyone in the relief corps, he has pitched in all situations, from long relief to closing, and he has picked up two saves.
Saturday night it was long relief against Greenville. After Josh Hodges pitched an effective five innings, his night was ended after a rain delay of an hour and three minutes. Nappo was on the mound when the game resumed and delivered three shutout innings as the Hoppers beat the Drive 4-2.
“You always have to be ready to pitch,” he said. “You adapt to whatever situation. I’m always happy to get my number called. It’s all relative — you throw strikes, get ahead in the count, get guys out and be ready to throw every day.”
The Hoppers were down 1-0 when the game resumed, then scored four runs in the sixth, which made Nappo the winning pitcher for the first time this season. He gave up two hits and a walk but struck out five. Two of those came in the eighth inning, with runners on first and second and one out. Jose Vinicio and Jose Garcia both went down swinging to end the inning.
“You’re never looking for a strikeout,” he said. “With runners on first and second you want them to hit it on the ground for a double play. I just kept it simple and hit (catcher Tony Caldwell’s) glove.”
Kevin Cravey labored through a messy ninth inning to earn his third save. He sandwiched two walks, both on four pitches, around a single that loaded the bases with no outs. After giving up a sacrifice fly, Cravey got a flyout and groundout to end the game.
Hodges allowed two hits and one walk in his rain-shortened stint. Pitching coach Blake McGinley said Hodges had good tempo, stayed in the bottom of the strike zone and got ground balls.
“I know I could have gone six innings and maybe seven,” Hodges said. “I made a small change in my arm slot, raising it from a low three-quarters delivery to a little higher three-quarters. I stayed on top of the ball and had better command.”
Greenville got five shutout innings from its starter, Mike McCarthy, but when the game resumed the Drive switched to Justin Erasmus, who got tattooed by the Hoppers. Aaron Senne drove in one run with a single, Austin Nola doubled in another, James Wooster tripled in the third and Ryan Rieger doubled in the final run. Ryan Goetz ended the night with three hits.
The Hoppers can’t finish with a winning record on this home stand (they’re 2-4) but they can take the series against the Drive with a win Sunday.