Bill on Baseball:Hoppers wind up on losing end, 3-2

Posted by Guest Columnist on June 7, 2015 at 12:09 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

Hoppers wind up on losing end, 3-2
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at….

The Hoppers lost 3-2 and 3-1 to Hagerstown Saturday night, but it wasn’t a doubleheader.

The score of the game was 3-2, with the Suns getting a run off Hoppers reliever Josh Hodges in the top of the ninth. Th 3-1 count was the number of players ejected — three Hoppers and one Sun — after the teams engaged in a massive pushing and shoving scrum in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Hoppers manager Kevin Randel thought the umpires and peacemakers from both teams did a good job of restoring order.

“The only problem I had was they singled out three of our guys and only one of theirs,” Randel said.

The scenario unfolded like this. With the Hoppers down 1-0 and one out in the fourth inning, Austen Smith doubled and Arturo Rodriguez followed with a single. Randel waved Smith around third base as center fielder Dale Carey fielded the ball and fired home to catcher Brett Reistetter.

The throw was in time and Reistetter blocked the plate, as he is allowed to do with the ball in his hand (a catcher can’t block the plate without the ball). Smith banged into him and was called out by home plate umpire Jonathan Parra.

Smith and Reistetter locked up and tussled as their momentum carried them behind the plate. The dugouts and bullpens emptied quickly and things turned into a large, moving mass between home plate and the backstop.

When everyone was eventually separated. Parra ejected Smith and Reistetter, plus K.J. Woods and reserve catcher Felix Castillo from the Hoppers.

“Emotions were running high and the situation escalated pretty quickly,” Randel said. “Those things happen in baseball. I didn’t think it got violent but (Parra) said punches were thrown.”

People in the stands were yelling that Reistetter dropped the ball and Smith should have been safe, but Randel said he couldn’t see if that was the case.

Rony Cabrera went in to replace Woods at first base and Ryan Aper replaced Smith in the lineup, going to right field with John Norwood moving to Smith’s spot in left. Those moves, plus Castillo’s ejection, left the Hoppers with no more position players.

The Suns replaced Reistetter with Jorge Tillero, their other catcher. Tillero doubled in a run in the seventh inning to extend Hagerstown’s lead to 2-0.

After being shut out on three hits for six innings by Suns starter Drew Van Orden, the Hoppers broke through against reliever Robbie Dickey in the eighth. Zach Sullivan drew a one-out walk, Mason Davis reached on an infield error and Brian Schales walked to load the bases.

Cabrera delivered a line drive double down the right field line that scored Sullivan and Davis and sent Schales to third. That tied the score 2-2 and the Hoppers appeared in great position. The Suns brought in Justin Amlung, who struck out Aper and got Rodriguez to pop out, stranding two runners in scoring position.

“We had it lined up to push the winning run across and we didn’t get it done,” Randel said. “We’ll learn how to get those runs across one of these days.”

The Suns reached Hodges for two singles and a sacrifice fly by Brennan Middleton to push across the go-ahead run in the ninth.

Almost overlooked was a fine effort by Hoppers starter Jorgan Cavanerio, who pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on six hits.

“He threw great and got better as he went,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “He kept them off-balance.”

NOTES: The teams wrap up the series with Sunday’s 4 p.m. game with Ben Holmes starting for Greensboro … Sullivan drew three walks … Norwood was thrown out trying to steal second base in the ninth, ending the game … Parra warned each relief pitch that entered the game to prevent any retaliation … The South Atlantic League will review videos and decide if any suspensions are in order.

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