Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers split; start series with Hagerstown

Posted by Guest Columnist on June 4, 2014 at 11:11 pm under Professional | Comments are off for this article

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

Hoppers split; start series with Hagerstown

The series the Hoppers have been waiting for starts Thursday when they open a four-game stand with Hagerstown at NewBridge Bank Park.

The Hoppers split a doubleheader at Lakewood Wednesday, winning 1-0 in the first game and losing 2-0 in the second. Hagerstown edged Delmarva 5-4. The results leave the Suns in first place in the Northern Division of the South Atlantic League with a record of 40-19. Greensboro and Delmarva tied for second at 34-25.

The task is not impossible, but it’s daunting. The Hoppers and Shorebirds trail by six games with 11 games remaining in the first half. If Greensboro is going to have any chance to overtake the Suns, it must win the series. Taking three of four would cut the lead to four games and a sweep would move the Hoppers within two games. A split would amount to treading water, leaving them six behind with seven to play.

Because of the peculiarities of the SAL schedule, this will be the only time the division rivals meet in the first half.

At Lakewood Wednesday, Ryan Newell pitched seven shutout innings in the opener, allowing only four hits with one walk and three strikeouts. He improved his record to 5-4 and lowered his ERA to 2.52.

The Hoppers were shut out for five innings by BlueClaws starter Ranfi Casimiro, who allowed three hits and two walks. Against Cody Forsythe in the sixth, J.T. Riddle singled and went to third on a single by Carlos Lopez. Felix Munoz was safe on a fielding error by second baseman Andrew Pullin as Riddle scored (Munoz was credited with an RBI).

Lakewood’s J.P. Crawford singled to open the bottom of the sixth and was sacrificed to second. But Newell got Dylan Cozens to line out to center and Willians Astudillo to ground out. Newell retired the side in order in the seventh.

Good pitching continued in the second half, with Sean Townsley allowing one run in five innings and Sean Donatello one unearned run in one inning. But the BlueClaws were even better. Julio Reyes allowed five hits in five innings and Ulises Joaquin earned the save with two scoreless innings.

In the top of the sixth, Avery Romero and Juan Avila walked. Joel Jimenez singled to right field but Romero was thrown out at the plate by Cozens to end the inning.

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