Bill on Baseball:Hoppers’ comeback falls a run short

Posted by Guest Columnist on August 10, 2013 at 10:02 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at…..

Hoppers’ comeback falls a run short

The saying in baseball goes that solo home runs won’t beat you.

But there are always exceptions, as the Hoppers found out Friday night.

Three solo home runs by Augusta pushed a one-run lead to four runs and that proved to be just enough as the GreenJackets held on for a 5-4 win in NewBridge Bank Park.

“We just ran out of innings,” said manager Jorge Hernandez. “We battled back (from 5-1) and scored some runs.”

Just not quite enough.

After the Hoppers scored on Viosergy Rosa’s RBI double in the first, starter Chad James gave up a two-run single in the top of the second. But the hits that really hurt were the solo homers — to Trevor Brown in the third, Chuckie Jones in the fourth and Joe Rapp in the sixth. Two homers were on pitches up in the strike zone and the other was on a hanging curve ball.

From there, the Hoppers got back in it. Jesus Solorzano hit his 12th homer, a two-run shot, in the sixth to cut it to 5-3 And Juancito Martinez yanked one to left field for his second homer in the seventh to shave it to 5-4. All those came off Augusta starter Justin Schumer. But Steven Okert and Jorge Bucardo shut out the Hoppers the rest of the way.

The Hoppers had a big opportunity in the first when they loaded the bases with two outs. But Blake Barber took a called third strike to end the inning.

James, a former No. 1 draft pick who pitched here in 2010, dropped to 1-6 with the loss and now has a 6.52 ERA. Mason Hope provided excellent relief with three shutout innings.

“You give the ball to the bullpen and they should give you a chance,” Hernandez said, “and that’s exactly what he did.”

The series continues Saturday night with Chipper Smith getting the start for the Hoppers.

On Thursday, the Hoppers got an encouraging start from Austin Brice, who pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed one run on four hits. He struck out six but the biggest stat for him was just two walks.

In his last three starts Brice has pitched 17 1/3 innings, allowed 10 hits and six runs (five earned), struck out 19 and walked seven. He won two of those but didn’t get the win Thursday, leaving with the score tied 1-1. Dane Stone finished up and got the win, retiring all eight batters he faced.

The Hoppers scored all their runs with two outs — a solo home run by Colin Moran in the first, then a two-run homer by Blake Barber in the eighth and a three-run shot by Cameron Flynn in the eighth.

“The past few games I’ve been relaxed and not trying to do too much,” Brice said. “Relaxing is the key because it helps you keep the ball down in the zone. When you tense up, you don’t have as much control.

“I just want to stay focused all the way until the end (of the season). You don’t want to let up. It’s not how you start the season, it’s how you finish.”

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