Bill Hass on Baseball:Close play nips Hoppers at the end

Posted by Guest Columnist on June 19, 2015 at 12:11 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

Close play nips Hoppers at the end
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

Call it a gnat’s eyelash or whatever, but there wasn’t much of a margin when the Hoppers’ Justin Twine was called out to end Thursday’s game against Greenville.

The Hoppers had scored once in the ninth inning to pull within 4-3 and had runners on third and first with one out. Greenville pulled its infield in halfway and Twine was jammed on an inside pitch. His grounder was fielded by second baseman Mauricio Dubon, who threw to shortstop Javier Guerra to get the lead runner.

Twine is extremely fast down the line and he seemed to arrive the same time as Guerra’s throw to first baseman Nick Longhi. Base umpire Ryan Barneycastle made an emphatic “out” call at first which ended the game, negating the run that crossed the plate and would have tied the game.

Manager Kevin Randel said his view was blocked by the pitcher, but he thought Twine was safe, judging by the animated reaction of first base coach Jose Ceballos.

“It was a bang-bang play,” Ceballos said, “but I thought his foot touched (the base) before the first baseman caught the ball.”

Of course, to be called safe a runner doesn’t actually have to beat the ball. If it’s a tie, the call is supposed to favor the runner.

Twine let out a big sigh when asked what he thought.

“I thought I (beat it),” he said. “Ceballos was jumping up and down and that got me excited. But there’s nothing we can do about it now.”

The pitcher who got the double-play ball, facing just one batter, was Kyle Kaminska, who pitched for the Hoppers in 2008 and 2009. Back then he was a starter who compiled a two-year record of 14-16. After that, his baseball odyssey took him to Jupiter, Jacksonville and New Orleans in the Marlins system, then Bradenton and Altoona with the Pirates, followed by Portland and Salem with the Red Sox.

Kaminska didn’t pitch in 2014 and now, at age 26, is back in the South Atlantic League with Greenville. Thursday was just his second appearance of the season, and he picked up the save with the double play.

The loss went to reliever James Buckelew, his first of the season against three wins. The left-hander pitched a scoreless sixth but gave up two runs in the seventh. He had not allowed a run in his previous five outings, covering 12 2/3 innings.

Buckelew relieved Jordan Holloway, who made his second start. The right-hander, who just turned 19 on June 13, gave the Hoppers five innings, allowing two early runs. Holloway gave up three hits, walked three and struck out two. He was backed up by two double plays and a nice catch by center fielder Zach Sullivan.

“He settled in,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “He’s got to throw more strikes with his fastball but he showed his curve later and that was nice to see. It’s all a new experience and the game is a little fast for him right now. But he kept us in it and gave us a chance.”

NOTES: The Hoppers took two out of three from Greenville, a team Randel called “the best we’ve played this season.” The Drive is tied for first place with Savannah in the Southern Division … Austen Smith’s two RBIs bumped his total to 32 … Sullivan contributed the other RBI … Kannapolis comes to town for three games, starting Friday, to close the first half of the season … Drew Steckenrider will start Friday’s game, followed by Jorgan Cavanerio Saturday and Tyler Kolek Sunday.

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