Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers stay alive with 15-5 rout of Suns

Posted by Press Release on June 8, 2014 at 1:09 pm under Professional | Comments are off for this article

“Make good swings and good things can happen, and tonight they did,” summed up hitting coach Frank Moore after Greensboro buried Hagerstown 15-5 in NewBridge Bank Park.

Hoppers stay alive with 15-5 rout of Suns

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

The Hoppers reduced hitting to its simplest terms Saturday night.

“Make good swings and good things can happen, and tonight they did,” summed up hitting coach Frank Moore after Greensboro buried Hagerstown 15-5 in NewBridge Bank Park.

The victory kept the Hoppers alive in the race for the first-half pennant in the Northern Division of the South Atlantic League. Hagerstown, with a 41-21 record, is still firmly in control. But the Hoppers (36-26) whittled the lead to five games with eight remaining. Delmarva (35-27) lost Saturday to remain six games behind the Suns. Any combination of four Hagerstown wins and Greensboro losses will eliminate the Hoppers. Delmarva’s elimination number is down to three.

“We need to win (Sunday’s) game, that’s for sure,” said infielder J.T. Riddle. “We could get hot, Hagerstown could get cold and this could go down to the last series of the first half.”

The Hoppers shelled Hagerstown pitching for 13 hits, including three doubles and three home runs. Avery Romero hit a two-run shot in the second inning, important because it tied the game 3-3 after the Hoppers were down 3-0 at the start.

Riddle hit a two-run homer in the fourth that put the Hoppers ahead for the first time, 5-4.

Greensboro broke the game open with six runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by a three-run blast by Perez, his first of the season.

“It was a slider, a hanger over the middle of the plate,” Perez said, “and I just tried to make good contact. I felt I got enough of it. It feels good, especially the first one.”

Perez hit three homers at Batavia in the New York-Penn League last season, but none in 13 games with the Hoppers.

Riddle’s homer was his second of the season and it just got over the short fence in right field.

“It’s been awhile since I hit one,” he said, “and I don’t hit many. I had a feeling it would barely make it over because I didn’t hit it that well. I’ve been feeling good at the plate lately and I got a break to go my way.”

The big inning made it 11-4 and the Hoppers tacked on four more runs in the sixth, with Justin Bohn cracking a two-run double. The bottom of the lineup continued to hit well with Cody Keefer, Rehiner Cordova and Perez combining for five hits and eight RBIs.

“That’s what you want, to spread the offense out and don’t just rely on the 2-3-4 hitters,” Moore said. “When everyone contributed one through nine, it takes the load off the middle of the order.”

From the pitching standpoint, starter Matt Milroy was erratic, walking three batters in the first inning and surrendering three runs. He held the Suns scoreless for two innings before giving up a solo homer in the fourth to Jeff Kobernus, who is on a rehab assignment for the Washington Nationals. Milroy was done after throwing 95 pitches in four innings.

C.J. Robinson, the side-arm right-hander, came on to throw three clutch shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out two. Josh Easley gave up an unearned run in the eighth and Esmerling de la Rosa retired the side in order to end the game.

“Robinson really stepped up for us tonight,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “He has a different delivery and he kept the ball down with some movement and pitched ahead in the count. Getting the third out in innings has been a problem for him, but not tonight.”

The Hoppers have scored 23 runs in the last two games, both wins.

“We’re really competing offensively,” manager David Berg said. “We’re getting good at-bats and making things happen. The ball was flying well tonight.”

NOTES: Max Garner will start the series finale Sunday at 4 p.m. … Outfielder Carlos Lopez started the game but left with vision problems after the top of the first … Juan Avila replaced him and contributed three hits, including two in the fifth inning … Hagerstown pitchers issued 10 walks, hit two batters, threw two wild pitches and committed a balk.

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