Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers complete sweep of Lakewood

Posted by Guest Columnist on June 27, 2014 at 9:38 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

“To start 1-3 and finish like we did was nice,” said manager David Berg. “I’m not happy with our approach by our starting pitchers, but we swung the bats and made up for that.”

Hoppers complete sweep of Lakewood
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at….

The sports adage that “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” fit the home stand that wrapped up for the Hoppers Thursday night.

Greensboro rallied for four runs in the sixth inning to push past Lakewood 8-6 and complete a four-game sweep. The Hoppers were able to finish the home stand 5-3 after starting the second half of the season by losing three of their first four to Hagerstown.

“To start 1-3 and finish like we did was nice,” said manager David Berg. “I’m not happy with our approach by our starting pitchers, but we swung the bats and made up for that.”

After winning a small ball game 4-3 with 12 singles Wednesday, the Hoppers were held to seven hits Thursday but five went for extra bases — doubles by Austin Dean, Felix Munoz and Avery Romero, a triple by Munoz and a three-run homer by Carlos Lopez. Munoz had two RBIs to raise his total to 52 for the season. Dean, Lopez and J.T. Riddle scored twice each.

Lopez hit his homer in the third inning to give the Hoppers a 3-0 lead. It was just his third of the year, but it raised his RBI total to 41, third on the team. He has hit line drives most of the season, but got under this one and hit a high fly over the right field fence.

“That was a hanging curve ball,” Lopez said. “I hit it a little off the end of the bat but I knew it had enough to get out. Those RBIs seem to come in stacks. I only had a few to start the year, then a lot, then a few and now a lot recently. It’s a credit to guys getting on base ahead of me.”

Lopez played his second straight game in center field, a new position for him.

“I like it,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever played there. In batting practice I went out there to get some reads on the ball. There’s two gaps to cover but you don’t get as many slices on the ball as you do in left or right field.”

After jumping out 4-0, the Hoppers gave up the lead when starter Jarlin Garcia was touched for five runs in the middle innings. Greensboro’s four-run rally, featuring a two-run double by Munoz and an RBI single by Romero, still made Garcia the winning pitcher, raising his record to 8-2 but inflating his ERA to 4.84.

Although he was nailed in the ribs by a line drive in the fourth inning, Garcia stayed in the game but lost the efficiency he had when retiring nine of the first 10 hitters.

“Its an inability to pitch under pressure with runners on base, and that got exposed,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “He’s got to strive to be better every time out.”

Sam Alvis pitched two innings, giving up an unearned run, and Tyler Kinley, despite going deep in some counts earned his third save with a one-two-three ninth.

The Hoppers head out on a seven-game road trip, starting Friday with the first of four games at Asheville, a team they haven’t played this season. Domingo German, recently selected for the Futures Game on July 13 in Minneapolis, will start the opener. Next the team travels to Lexington for three games before returning to NewBridge Bank on July 4 against West Virginia.

NOTES: Chad Wallach drew walks his first three trips at bat and now has walked 34 times compared to 25 strikeouts … Third baseman Juan Avila had two fine defensive plays, making a good pickup of a hard grounder on the game’s first play and firing to Munoz, who made an excellent stretch. In the ninth inning Avila made another good pickup and strong throw to get the out.

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