Bill Hass on Baseball:Suns best Hoppers in opener(This just in: Those guys are good)

Posted by Guest Columnist on June 6, 2014 at 9:56 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

“They have speed and speed doesn’t go into a slump,” said Hoppers manager David Berg. “They didn’t steal any bases tonight but they were aggressive and they took extra bases. If you try to defend against a bunt they bloop it over your head.”

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

Suns best Hoppers in opener

This just in: Those guys are good.

Hagerstown, which has had a stranglehold on first place in the Northern Division of the South Atlantic League, topped the Hoppers 9-4 in the opener of a four-game series Thursday night. The Suns ran their record to 41-19 and now lead Greensboro by seven games with just 10 remaining in the first half. Realistically, the Hoppers (34-26) need to win the final three games of the series to have any chance to catch the Suns.

“They have speed and speed doesn’t go into a slump,” said Hoppers manager David Berg. “They didn’t steal any bases tonight but they were aggressive and they took extra bases. If you try to defend against a bunt they bloop it over your head.”

The Suns nicked Hoppers pitching for 14 hits, three each by Wilmer Difo and Drew Ward. They took control of the game with four runs in the fifth inning that gave them a 6-3 lead, then added three more in the seventh.

Hagerstown’s pitching was so-so, issuing eight walks and allowing nine hits. But the Hoppers’ offense was just 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 13 men stranded. In the bottom of the eighth, Greensbor loaded the bases with two outs. The Suns brought in left-hander Justin Thomas to face left-handed Felix Munoz, who had an RBI single early in the game. Thomas threw all breaking ball and Munoz struck out to end the inning.

Against a team this good, there’s little margin for error and the Hoppers compounded things by committing three errors.

“We’ve definitely got to play defense better,” Berg said. “We gave them five unearned runs.”

Hoppers starter Domingo German was not at his best, allowing seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. He was charged with six runs, only one of them earned, while walking one and hitting a batter. German, who has five wins, lost for only the second time in 12 starts.

“Those games are going to happen,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “It’s not a negative by any means. It’s an opportunity for him to get better.”

Powell said Hagerstown constantly puts pressure on the defense, which the pitchers must learn to handle.

“They’re an aggressive bunch, even more aggressive on the bases,” he said. “That’s why they’re winning, because they’re relentless on the basepaths. That makes it tougher but We still have to focus on the task at hand. We have to be able to go through it and learn how to pitch under that pressure.”

Jarlin Garcia gets the starting call for the Hoppers in Friday’s game at 7 p.m.

NOTES: Besides Munoz, RBIs were collected by Avery Romero, Justin Bohn and Yefri Perez … Outfielder Austin Dean will not play in this series. Berg said he might be activated for the final series of the first half, at Kannapolis … Miami, with the second pick in the baseball draft Thursday night, passed on NC State left-hander Carlos Rodon and took right-handed pitcher Tyler Kolek out of Shepherd High School in Texas. Kolek is 6-4, 255 pounds with an excellent fastball and sharp slider. Rodon was taken by the White Sox with the third pick.


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