Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers top Suns again to stay in the race(with Box Score)

Posted by Press Release on June 8, 2014 at 11:29 pm under Professional | Comments are off for this article

“It simply is a must-win (situation),” said manager David Berg. “Now we’ll see what happens.”

Hoppers top Suns again to stay in the race

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

There aren’t many “must-win” games in a long baseball season, but the Hoppers won one Sunday and now they’ll play a few more.

In order to have a chance to catch Hagerstown, Greensboro needed to take three games out of four from the Suns. After losing the series opener, they won three straight, capping things with a 5-4 victory in the finale.

Hagerstown leads the Northern Division standings with a 41-22 record and the Hoppers are 37-26, four games behind. Seven games remain in the first half, and any combination of Suns wins and Hoppers losses totaling four will eliminate Greensboro. Hickory and Delmarva are still mathematically in the race, but their elimination number is two.

The Hoppers head on the road for their final seven games, three at West Virginia starting Monday and four at Kannapolis beginning Thursday. Hagerstown travels to Lakewood for three games, then finishes at home with four games against Greenville. The Hoppers can’t control what the Suns will do, so they must keep the pressure on by winning games.

“It simply is a must-win (situation),” said manager David Berg. “Now we’ll see what happens.”

A rain delay of an hour and 43 minutes before the game began didn’t bother starter Max Garner. He allowed only one hit in the first five innings as the Hoppers took a 4-0 lead. In the sixth, he gave up a single and a walk before getting a fly ball out. Miguel del Pozo then came on in relief and surrendered a sacrifice fly to Isaac Ballou.

With Spencer Kieboom at bat, Jeff Kobernus broke for second base. Del Pozo saw him and threw to first baseman Felix Munoz, who pegged it to second baseman Avery Romero for the tag to end the inning.

“(Garner) tends to get fatigued when he gets around 85 pitches,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell, “and we had guys in the bullpen. He threw great, establishing his fastball early and getting a lot of fly ball outs.”

The 4-1 lead held until the eighth, when the Suns’ outstanding shortstop, Wilmer Difo, cracked a three-run homer off Tyler Kinley to tie the game.

Munoz led off the bottom of the inning with a walk, moved to second on a single by Romero and to third on a fielder’s choice. Juan Avila swung and missed at two pitches from the Suns’ Jake Walsh, then hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Munoz and regain the lead.

Closer Sean Donatello came in and was touched for a leadoff single, but did a good job of holding the runner while disposing of the next three hitters for his second save in three days.

“Donnie has really stepped it up his last couple of outings,” Berg said. “Maybe he understands the circumstances. He was able to hold the runner on first base while still making good pitches.”

The Hoppers are getting key contributions throughout the lineup. Cody Keefer stayed hot by belting a solo homer, Avila doubled home a run and backup catcher Joel Jimenez had a two-run single.

In Avila’s case, he was in the lineup because left fielder Carlos Lopez, who had to come out of Saturday’s game with an eye problem, also missed Sunday’s game. Avila stepped in Saturday and contributed three hits and had two RBIs Sunday.

“We had to throw him in there (Saturda),” Berg said, “and he didn’t over-think. He just went out and reacted.”

Avila said he had been working with hitting coach Frank Moore on smoothing out his swing and waiting for a chance to play. It came suddenly when Lopez had to exit Saturday’s game.

“I just went out to compete and I got some results,” Avila said.

On the at-bat in the eighth inning, he slowed himself down.

“On my first two swings, I was trying to hit the ball too hard,” Avila said. “So I stepped out of the box and took a deep breath to gather my mind. I told myself to put the ball in play and give the runner a chance to score. Then I took a two-strike approach and shortened my swing.”

Moore said players can’t make excuses if they want to take advantage of their opportunities.

“You just want to make solid contact,” he said. “You can’t guide the ball, but you try to stay in the middle of the field. He found a way to get it done and we want to keep riding that wave.”

The Hoppers have been riding a wave for three weeks, winning 14 of their last 19. So momentum, often a fickle thing in baseball, is on their side for the moment.

Ryan Newell, who has a road record of 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA, will open the series at West Virginia.

Box Score courtesy of the South Atlantic League:
Hagerstown Suns
Player Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG
Jeff Kobernus LF 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .231
Wilmer Difo SS 4 1 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 .320
Isaac Ballou DH 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 .262
Spencer Kieboom C 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .312
1- Willie Medina PR 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .221
Drew Ward 3B 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .269
John Wooten 1B 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .307
Narciso Mesa RF 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .273
Brennan Middleton 2B 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .315
Rafael Bautista CF 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .293
Totals 29 4 4 0 0 1 4 4 9 .279

1-Ran for Kieboom in the 9th.
BATTING
HR: Difo (6, 8th inning off Kinley, 2 on, 2 out).
TB: Difo 4; Kieboom; Bautista, R 2.
RBI: Ballou (28), Difo 3 (53).
2-out RBI: Difo 3.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Difo 2.
SF: Ballou.
Team RISP: 1-for-4.
Team LOB: 3.

BASERUNNING
SB: Bautista, R (29, 2nd base off Garner/Jimenez, J).
CS: Mesa (1, 2nd base by Garner/Jimenez, J), Kobernus (1, 2nd base by Del Pozo, M/Jimenez, J).
PO: Kobernus (1st base by Del Pozo, M).

FIELDING
E: Middleton (4, fielding).
DP: (Middleton-Wooten).

Greensboro Grasshoppers
Player Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG
Javier Lopez SS 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .195
Justin Bohn 2B 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .289
J.T. Riddle 3B 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .234
Felix Munoz 1B 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 .311
Avery Romero DH 4 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 .326
Cody Keefer RF 4 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 .333
Juan Avila LF 2 1 1 1 0 0 2 1 0 .224
Joel Jimenez C 4 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 .286
Yefri Perez CF 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .258
Totals 30 5 8 1 0 1 5 4 5 .282

BATTING
2B: Avila, J (11, Pivetta).
HR: Keefer (1, 2nd inning off Pivetta, 0 on, 0 out).
TB: Avila, J 2; Jimenez, J; Bohn; Riddle; Romero, A 3; Keefer 4.
RBI: Keefer (15), Avila, J 2 (20), Jimenez, J 2 (2).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Romero, A; Lopez, J; Perez, Y.
SF: Avila, J.
GIDP: Riddle.
Team RISP: 2-for-9.
Team LOB: 6.

FIELDING
E: Riddle (11, throw).
Pickoffs: Del Pozo, M (Kobernus at 1st base).

Hagerstown Suns
Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Nick Pivetta 4.0 6 4 4 2 3 1 4.15
Justin Thomas 3.0 1 0 0 1 2 0 3.24
Jake Walsh (L, 0-2) 1.0 1 1 1 1 0 0 1.99
Totals 8.0 8 5 5 4 5 1 3.75
Greensboro Grasshoppers
Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Max Garner 5.1 2 1 1 3 4 0 3.91
Miguel Del Pozo (H, 2) 1.2 0 0 0 0 2 0 6.40
Tyler Kinley (BS, 1)(W, 2-0) 1.0 1 3 0 1 2 1 0.00
Sean Donatello (S, 9) 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1.80
Totals 9.0 4 4 1 4 9 1 3.26

Groundouts-flyouts: Pivetta 5-1, Thomas 5-1, Walsh 1-1, Garner 2-5, Del Pozo, M 1-1, Kinley 1-1, Donatello 1-1.
Batters faced: Pivetta 19, Thomas 11, Walsh 5, Garner 20, Del Pozo, M 4, Kinley 6, Donatello 4.
Inherited runners-scored: Del Pozo, M 2-1.
Umpires: HP: Tucker Benville. 1B: Jon Felczak.
Weather: 71 degrees, partly cloudy.
Wind: 10 mph, R to L.
T: 2:30 (1:43 delay).
Att: 3,348.
Venue: NewBridge Bank Park.


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