Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball:Hoppers squeeze out another one-run win

Posted by Guest Columnist on May 5, 2014 at 11:03 pm under Professional | Comments are off for this article

“I’ve gotten some consistency with repeating my motion,” Milroy said, “but today I was all over the place. But it makes you a more mature pitcher. Down the road, when I get in some trouble in the sixth or seventh inning, I hope they will have confidence to leave me in the game longer.”
Matt Milroy-Greensboro Grasshoppers pitcher

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

Hoppers squeeze out another one-run win

Sometimes you can tell more about a pitcher when he doesn’t have his best stuff than when he’s really sharp.

Matt Milroy did not have a dominant start for the Hoppers Monday, but he was good enough to be the winning pitcher in a 2-1 win over West Virginia. There certainly wasn’t anything wrong with his line in the box score — five innings, no runs, two hits, two walks, six strikeouts. But it wasn’t quite as easy as it looked.

“I’ve gotten some consistency with repeating my motion,” Milroy said, “but today I was all over the place. But it makes you a more mature pitcher. Down the road, when I get in some trouble in the sixth or seventh inning, I hope they will have confidence to leave me in the game longer.”

Milroy didn’t have much trouble through the first four innings, but got himself into a jam in the fifth. He gave up a walk and a single to the first two batters, then struck out Danny Collins. He hit Kawika Emsley-Pai with a pitch to load the bases, then got Elvis Escobar to ground into a double play to end the inning.

“It was good to see him work out of that,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “We get to evaluate a pitcher when he’s under pressure. He has an electric fastball and at this level he can get away with some mistakes. We’re still looking for better fastball command.”

It was Milroy’s third straight appearance without allowing a run, a stretch of 15 scoreless innings. He picked up his fourth win of the season, tops on the staff.

Sean Townsley, the other half of the “piggyback” combination, pitched three innings and allowed a run, but got out of a messy situation in the eighth by striking out JaCoby Jones.

In the ninth inning, the Hoppers elected to go with their newest pitcher, Esmerling de la Rosa, who joined the team a few days ago after being in extended spring training.

“He hadn’t pitched in three days and (Tuesday) is an off day, so we didn’t want him to sit around for four,” Powell said. “Sometimes you have to put development first and throw the scoreboard out the window.”

De la Rosa walked the first batter, who was sacrificed to second base. He retired Erich Weiss when first baseman Carlos Lopez made a fine stop of a hard grounder near the line, scrambled up and made the play unassisted. Wyatt Mathisen then hit a foul popup near the Power dugout that Lopez stayed with and caught to end the game.

Although it was Lopez’s first game at first base this season, he’s no stranger there.

“I played there every game my last two seasons in college (Cal State-Fullerton),” he said. “That ground ball was a tough play, but it’s easier to make in the ninth inning because you’re so locked in.”

Lopez had two assists from left field in Sunday’s 3-2 win, throwing out runners at home plate and third base. He said he enjoys the versatility that gives him more chances to play.

The game began at 10:45 a.m. and was played in front of second-graders (8,380 strong) and their high-decibel shrieks.

After a 3-2 win Sunday, the Hoppers again made a low score stand up after striking early. Justin Bohn led off with a double and Austin Dean tripled him in but was stranded there. The first two hitters reached base in the third but never advanced and the Hoppers left the bases loaded in the seventh. At least they managed an important run when Bohn drew a bases-loaded walk that scored Chad Wallach.

“Defensively I thought we did a good job (three double plays) and our pitching was good enough to win,” said manager David Berg. “We didn’t play well offensively. We left some runs out there, missed some signs and didn’t get down some bunts.”

Still, the homestand ended with a 5-2 record, leaving the Hoppers 17-13 on the season. After a day off Tuesday, the club heads to Greenville for a three-game series, then returns home Saturday to begin a stretch against Lexington and Rome.

“It’s nice to have a day off,” Lopez said, “and it’s even better on a happy note.”


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