Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers pummel Lakewood 14-2

Posted by Guest Columnist on June 24, 2014 at 9:42 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

“Magic dust,” hitting coach Frank Moore said with a smile after watching the offense pound out 16 hits in a 14-2 drubbing of Lakewood.

Hoppers pummel Lakewood 14-2
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at www.gsohoppers.com

Maybe it was a special ingredient sprinkled on the Hoppers’ pre-game meal Monday night.

“Magic dust,” hitting coach Frank Moore said with a smile after watching the offense pound out 16 hits in a 14-2 drubbing of Lakewood.

More likely, it was simply the offense returning to what it does best — hitting up and down the lineup. All nine batters got at least one hit. Carlos Lopez had three and Felix Munoz, Austin Dean, Justin Bohn, Cody Keefer and Yefri Perez had two apiece. J.T. Riddle and Rehiner Cordova each had three RBIs and Munoz had a pair.

Lopez had been in a 2-for-27 slide and Munoz was in a 1-for-19 slump.

“Lopez had been hitting the ball well, but they just weren’t falling,” said manager David Berg. “Munoz had a couple fall in tonight and maybe he’ll be even better tomorrow.”

In Munoz’ first at-bat, his fly ball to left field kept carrying and just made it over the fence for his ninth homer of the season. That two-run shot gave Greensboro a 2-0 lead and opened the scoring gates. The Hoppers put up two five-run innings later in the game.

The beneficiary of the offensive outburst was starter Cody Crabaugh, who picked up his first win of the year. He and four relievers did a masterful job of scattering 13 hits. One of those was a solo home run, so Lakewood’s other 12 hits produced just one run.

Good defense backed up the pitching, with the Hoppers turning three double plays and center fielder Perez throwing out a runner trying to stretch a single into a double. Crabaugh also mentioned a diving catch by Dean in right field, and a diving stop and good throw by Bohn at second base to get a runner at first.

“The defense did a fantastic job,” Crabaugh said, “and when you have that behind you, you don’t have to be afraid to throw a strike.”

Maybe the most important thing Crabaugh did was keep Lakewood off the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. In the previous three games, Hoppers starters had been touched for five, two and two runs.

“He uses what he has well,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “He throws a fastball, a split changeup, a loopy curve and a cutter and he does a good job mixing them up. He’s aggressive and he attacks the zone. When we give him the ball, we know he’ll give us everything he has.”

Crabaugh joined the team at the end of May and relieved in four games. But he pitched one of the most important games of the stretch run in the first half when he made a spot start for an injured Max Garner at Kannapolis. He responded with 6 1/3 innings, allowing four hits and one run. His effort gave the Hoppers a chance to win, which they went on to do in a game they had to have.

Starting is what Crabaugh feels most comfortable doing. It gives him the chance to get back to a precise pre-game routine that he developed at Oklahoma City University.

“I go out to the field 45 minutes early,” he said. “I stretch for 15-18 minutes, play catch for 10-12, throw on a flat surface for a few minutes and get on the mound for 10 minutes. They I come inside, have a cup of water, take my hat off and clear my head. It’s pretty down to the minute.

“During the game I try to stay as even-keel as possible. Even in the dugout, I might smile at a joke but I try not to get too high or too low. It’s a one-pitch-at-a-time mentality.”

Two new relievers each got an inning of work. Ryan Wertenberger allowed a hit and got a strikeout and left-hander Sam Alvis did the same.

“I’ve had them both before,” Powell said. “It was good to see them throw in this league and they both had a quick inning.”

Sean Townsley will start the second game of the series, which will be played at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.


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