Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers win with walk-off walk

Posted by Guest Columnist on April 8, 2014 at 10:27 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

“There was no magic formula,” said hitting coach Frank Moore. “That was all the guys. They battled and didn’t give at-bats away. It was grit and grind tonight.”

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

Hoppers win with walk-off walk

If you’re going to play a marathon baseball game, you might as well win it.

That’s what the Hoppers did Monday night, rallying for a 10-9 win over Lakewood in 11 innings in a game that took three hours and 44 minutes at NewBridge Bank Park.

Aside from the 19 runs, the game featured 29 hits, six errors (four by the Hoppers), 10 walks, two hit batters, two wild pitches, two passed balls, an out on a batter’s interference call and assorted other bizarre aspects.

Not the least of those was the finish — Felix Munoz walked on four pitches to force in the winning run, earning a game-winning RBI without taking the bat off his shoulder.

The Hoppers were dead in the water on two occasions. Down 8-5 in the bottom of the ninth, they rallied for three runs to tie it with Justin Bohn, Carlos Lopez and Austin Dean picking up clutch RBIs to send the game into extra innings.

Then, down by 9-8 in the bottom of the 11th, the first two Hoppers made outs. But Bohn kept things alive with a single, Lopez also singled, the runners moved up on a balk, Dean was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Avery Romero singled up the middle for one run and Munoz took the walk-off walk to win it.

“There was no magic formula,” said hitting coach Frank Moore. “That was all the guys. They battled and didn’t give at-bats away. It was grit and grind tonight.”

Dean had a pair of doubles among his three hits and Bohn, Carlos Lopez, Romero and Javier Lopez added two hits each. The win pushed the Hoppers to 2-4 on the season and gave the players a boost.

“Everyone contributed,” Dean said. “We all have nothing but confidence and we don’t get down on ourselves. We’ve had a rocky start but I’m looking for some big things for us.”

Greensboro had 12 hits, a good night’s work after Lakewood starter Ranfi Casimiro held them hitless for the first four innings. But the Hoppers solved him for four runs on four hits in the fifth inning, including doubles by Romero, Munoz and Javier Lopez.

That lead was short-lived, with the BlueClaws responding with five runs in the sixth to claim a 7-5 lead and adding another in the seventh.

Even on a night when they allowed nine runs, Hoppers pitchers worked themselves out of several jams, stranding 14 runners. Sean Townsley, the High Point University alumnus, battled through 4 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits but only two runs. He gave up a leadoff double in the third inning and stranded that runner, then had men on second and third with no one out in the fourth and got out of that mess.

“He didn’t have his best stuff,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell, “but he never let the pressure bother him.”

The winning pitcher was Casey McCarthy, who pitched the last three innings, an unusually long outing.

“I only went one inning every time in spring training,” he said. “But you pitch until they tell you you’re out of the game.”

McCarthy battled out of a touchy situation in the 10th with runners on second and third and one out. But he got a strikeout and groundout to end the threat. In the 11th, he gave up a long home run that went off the scoreboard to Lakewood’s J.P. Crawford (his fourth hit), but regrouped to get a groundout to end the inning.

“I live off the sinker,” McCarthy said, “and one didn’t sink. You don’t want to give up a home run like that, so it’s great when the team comes back and gets the win.”

The game certainly had its ugly aspects, which didn’t escape manager David Berg.

“I’m all about effort and the way you go about your business,” he said. “I’m not happy with the way we performed, even though we won. We made a lot of mental mistakes.”

The teams play again Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Max Garner draws his second start for the Hoppers.

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