Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers back home, look for strong finish to first half

Posted by Guest Columnist on June 16, 2015 at 10:20 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

Hoppers back home, look for strong finish to first half
from Bill Hass on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

There’s nothing much the Hoppers can do to make their first half any better in the South Atlantic League standings.

But what Greensboro can accomplish with the six games remaining until the All-Star break is play better baseball to carry over into the second half. The Hoppers play the last six games at NewBridge Bank Park, where they have a 16-13 record. Greenville comes in for three games, starting Tuesday night at 7 o’clock, followed by three with Kannapolis.

“Being home (for the final stretch) is huge,” said manager Kevin Randel in a phone conversation from Lexington. “We play much better at home, so maybe we can get the ball rolling a little bit and finish strong in the first half.”

For the first time in more than a month, the Hoppers have a little momentum. Their 4-1 win at Lexington Monday was their second straight over the Legends. That doesn’t sound like much, but it marked the first time they had won back-to-back games since May 9-10 at Rome.

They salvaged a split in the series after absorbing an 18-7 pounding in the first game and a 6-5 loss in the second game. They rebounded with a 4-2 win in 10 innings Sunday and followed with Monday’s victory. The constant in both games was pitching.

In Sunday’s win, starter Jorgan Cavanerio went six innings and gave up two runs, one earned, with 10 strikeouts and no walks. James Buckelew, Tyler Kane and Kyle Fischer followed with four shutout innings, with Kane getting the win and Fischer and save.

On Monday, Tyler Kolek had his best outing in awhile, pitching five innings and allowing one unearned run on three hits while walking three and striking out four. He earned his fourth win of the season. He was backed up by two shutout innings apiece from Sam Alvis and Josh Hodges, with Hodges earning his ninth save.

“He was throwing strike one early and often,” Randel said of Kolek. “And he was getting his breaking ball and changeup in the (strike) zone. It all starts with pitching.”

Rony Cabrera, Arturo Rodriguez and Austen Smith provided RBIS. No batter is particularly hot, but in the two wins there were contributions up and down the lineup. Justin Twine hit his second homer of the season in Sunday’s 12-hit attack.

Randel said the roster is back to full strength. Smith, Felix Castillo and K.J. Woods all served three-game suspensions as a result of an altercation in a game against Hagerstown over a week ago. All three were ejected, along with the Suns catcher, for throwing punches. When suspensions are handed out, a team has to play with 24 players or even 23.

“We played a man short for seven straight days,” Randel said, “and on three of those days we were two short. It’s tough, but just one of those things you have to deal with. But they’ve all finished up and we’re ready to go.”

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