Bill Hass on Baseball:Suns’ speed thwarts Hoppers

Posted by Guest Columnist on June 23, 2014 at 10:07 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

Suns’ speed thwarts Hoppers
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at….

The thing about speed is it forces a defense to be almost perfect.

The Hoppers’ defense wasn’t quite perfect Sunday and, as a result, they dropped a 4-3 game to Hagerstown. The Suns took three out of four games from Greensboro to open the second half of the South Atlantic League season.

Greensboro came back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to tie the game but never led. In the top of the ninth, with things tied 3-3, the Suns’ Willie Medina pushed a bunt toward first base. Pitcher Esmerling de la Rosa broke to cover the bag as first baseman Carlos Lopez fielded the ball. Lopez chose to dive and tag the base with his glove, but Medina was called safe.

Maybe de la Rosa got there in time and Lopez could have made the toss, but it was a split-second decision.

“I didn’t see (de la Rosa) close enough and I thought I should take it myself,” Lopez said. “I haven’t seen a replay, but I thought (the runner) was out.”

Medina moved to second base on a sacrifice. With Narciso Mesa up, Medina broke for third and Mesa did his job by putting the ball in play to shortstop J.T. Riddle. As Riddle threw to Lopez at first for the out, Medina steamed around third base and headed home. The throw by Lopez was off-line enough for Medina to slide in safely with the go-ahead run.

“I saw him take off for third and I knew he was going home,” Lopez said. “I just tried to get rid of the ball as soon as I could. They really put pressure on you and you have to be ready.”

The Suns’ speed also played a role in their third run. Wilmer Difo beat out an infield hit, raced to third on a single by Isaac Ballou and scored on an groundout by Spencer Kieboom.

Ballou accounted for the other two runs with a homer.

Hoppers starter Domingo German was not his usual sharp self early in the game. Averaging less than a walk per game, he walked two in the first inning. One of those was to Difo just before Ballou’s homer.

“He never established his fastball and he went to his off-speed stuff way too early,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “Later on he got better with his fastball but it was too late.”

German gave up three runs in six innings and Miguel del Pozo followed with two shutout innings.

Rehiner Cordova and Justin Bohn had RBI singles for the Hoppers in the third inning to tie the game 2-2. Cody Keefer’s homer in the seventh tied it 3-3. But the Hoppers hurt themselves by hitting into three double plays, two on line drives where the runner on second base was doubled off.

The Hoppers’ last eight home games have been against Hagerstown, with each team winning four. They won’t play again until August, in Hagerstown. Another familiar team, Lakewood, comes to NewBridge Bank Park for four games beginning Monday. Cody Crabaugh is the Hoppers’ scheduled starter in the opener.

NOTES: Bohn’s RBI moved his total to 46, one behind team leader Felix Munoz … Right-hander Ryan Wertenberger was added to the Hoppers roster to fill the spot opened when Josh Easley was released … Wertenberger was signed as a free agent in 2013 out of Cal-Berkeley. A former backup quarterback, he has a good arm but not much experience pitching. He appeared in 15 games in the Gulf Coast League last season, going 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. In four games at Jupiter and two at Batavia this year, he was 1-0 with a 6.52 ERA and seven strikeouts in 9.2 innings … The club is still one pitcher short. It should get a replacement for Matt Milroy, who was finally moved from the Greensboro roster to Jupiter.

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