Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers’ winning streak stopped at 10

Posted by Guest Columnist on June 20, 2014 at 10:15 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

Hoppers’ winning streak stopped at 10

No matter how good a baseball team is, a long season will produce a clunker of a game now and then.

That happened to the Hoppers Thursday night as they absorbed an 11-6 drubbing by the Hagerstown Suns. It was magnified by the fact that it was the first game of the second half of the South Atlantic League season. Greensboro finished the first half on a 10-game winning streak that carried it to a first-place finish in the Northern Division.

“It’s just one game,” said manager David Berg. “We just need to keep doing what we did in the first half.”

Can a team that has already made the playoffs lose some of its edge in the second half of the season? Hitting coach Frank Moore doesn’t believe that.

“You don’t waste a day or an at-bat,” he said. “You keep the same routine and have a short memory.”

Outfielder Carlos Lopez said the Hoppers need to approach each game with the same will to win that produced 44 victories in the first half.

“You have to keep practicing winning,” he said. “Bunting, moving guys over, not worrying about your stats. Losing is no fun.”

The Hoppers pitchers, simply outstanding down the stretch of the first half, were tagged for 15 hits Thursday and surrendered the most runs since giving up 12 to Greenville on May 7. Pitching coach Jeremy Powell chalked it up to a long season.

“Those games are going to happen, that’s part of the deal,” he said. “You have to turn the page and be better tomorrow.”

And part of it, too, is that Hagerstown is no slouch of a team. Although the Suns faded down the stretch of the first half, they still won 44 games and are bound to be hungry to win the second half.

The Suns use their great speed to set the tone for their offense. Rafael Bautista had two hits, stole three bases and scored three times. Wilmer Difo had three hits, stole a base and scored twice. Narciso Mesa recorded a double, a stolen base and a run scored. Drew Ward had three hits, including a solo homer, and James Yezzo hit a two-run homer.

No Greensboro pitcher escaped unscathed. Sean Townsley was charged with five runs. C.J. Robinson three, Cody Crabaugh two and Josh Easley one. Powell and Berg both said the Hoppers pitchers need to be quicker to the plate in their deliveries.

“We held the ball well and held the runners,” Berg said, “but you lift your leg and they run. When you’re slow to the plate, they’re going to steal. They create havoc out there.”

On offense, the Hoppers made good use of their seven hits. Justin Bohn hit his sixth homer, a two-run shot in the third inning, and Avery Romero cracked a two-run double in the eighth. Both extended their long hitting streaks, Romero to 16 games and Bohn to 12 games. J.T. Riddle hit an RBI double and Joel Jimenez had an RBI single that followed a triple by Juan Avila.

The teams play the second of four games Friday night with Ryan Newell starting for the Hoppers.

NOTES: Catcher Chad Wallach and first baseman Felix Munoz, who played in Tuesday’s All-Star game, were given the night off … Outfielder Coco Johnson left the game grabbing his right hamstring after beating out an infield hit in the third inning. He was replaced by Rehiner Cordova … Pitcher Matt Milroy has been promoted to Jupiter, although he was still on the Hoppers’ roster Thursday night … Pitcher Ramon del Orbe has been activated and Max Garner is on the DL with a fractured heel … Infielder Javier Lopez and outfielders Austin Dean and Kentrell Dewitt remain on the DL.

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