Bill Hass on Baseball:Garner, Donatello combine for 4-2 win

Posted by Press Release on April 9, 2014 at 10:05 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

“They pitched their butts off,” said manager David Berg, who saw his team even its record at 3-3.

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

Garner, Donatello combine for 4-2 win

It’s been a good couple of days for Sean Donatello.

On Monday, he watched the last 10 minutes of the NCAA national championship game in the Hoppers locker room as his UConn Huskies topped Kentucky. On Tuesday, he earned his first save since 2012 to help the Hoppers beat Lakewood 4-2.

The native of Salem, CT, attended a junior college campus of UConn at Avery Point.

“It was pretty cool,” he said of the national title. “I made sure everyone (in the locker room) knew about it.”

Everyone in the locker room knew about him Tuesday, this time for pitching the final 2 2/3 innings and striking out four in preserving the win for starter Max Garner. It’s not often that two pitchers combine to throw nine innings this early in the season in the South Atlantic League. It was much needed because the Hoppers bullpen has been piling up innings.

“They pitched their butts off,” said manager David Berg, who saw his team even its record at 3-3.

Coming off an 11-inning, 10-9 win over the BlueClaws Monday in a game that took nearly four hours, Greensboro took care of this one in just over two hours. The Hoppers had pulled out Monday’s game with a two-run rally in the 11th and that carried over. They hit Lakewood with three quick runs in the first inning.

J.T. Riddle and Justin Bohn singled, Carlos Lopez drove them in with a double into the left field corner and he scored on Austin Dean’s single. All that came before BlueClaws starter Shane Martin could retire a batter. Greensboro didn’t score again until the sixth, when Lopez doubled again and scored on a double by Felix Munoz, who drew the walk-off walk that won Monday’s game.

“I had two strikes and was looking to hit the ball hard somewhere,” Lopez said of his first time up. “In the three-hole you’re expected to drive in some runs and have a good at-bat. I feel relaxed at the plate and I’m making good contact.”

Lopez is now hitting .360 in the early going.

“He can flat-out hit,” Berg said. “He gets the barrel to the ball and has a good knowledge of the strike zone.”

Garner, making his second start, made the lead stand up. He pitched four shutout innings before giving up a run in the fifth, then put up another zero in the sixth inning. He returned the seventh inning and got one out, but two singles and a walk loaded the bases so Donatello came in.

He was greeted with a single by Jose Mayorga that scored a run and left the bases loaded. But Robinson Torres tapped a weak grounder that Donatello fielded and threw to catcher Sharif Othman to force out the lead runner. He struck out Carlos Tocci to end the inning.

“I wanted to be aggressive and not walk anybody,” Donatello said. “After I gave up the single, I composed myself and went after the next hitter.”

Pitching coach Jeremy Powell liked the way Donatello handled the bases-loaded pressure.

“He got us out of the jam and finished the game,” Powell said. “He was efficient and pitched ahead in the count. He’s a guy who can throw multiple innings and pitch in the back end of the bullpen.”

Donatello pitched in 14 games for the Hoppers in the second half of last season, posting a 1.11 ERA. He was never in a save situation but said he welcomes those opportunities.

Garner earned his first professional win with his longest outing. He pitched well in the season opener and left with the lead against Hickory, but the Crawdads came back to win.

“I felt a lot more comfortable because you get in that five-day routine,” Garner said of this start.

Using a two-seam fastball and cut fastball, Garner got 10 groundouts, a sign those pitches were working. He said the coaches asked him about going out for the seventh inning .

“I felt good,” he said. “Those two hits just found holes but I was trying to be a little too fine and walked a guy. But Donnie saved me.”

The Hoppers wrap up their opening home stand with a 12:30 game today with Jarlin Garcia starting. Then they hit the road for four games at Delmarva and three at Lakewood.


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