Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers search for consistent quality at-bats

Posted by Guest Columnist on July 7, 2015 at 12:14 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

Hoppers search for consistent quality at-bats
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at….

As frustration mounts during a bad streak, keeping things positive becomes challenging.

The Hoppers continued their rough patch to start the second half Monday, falling to Hickory 6-4. The loss was their third straight to the Crawdads on the current home stand and dropped them to 2-10 in the second half. Going back to the end of the first half of the SAL season, Greensboro has lost 13 of its last 15 games.

Manager Kevin Randel still believes this team has it in itself to get things going. But it’s going to take a concentrated effort from everyone.

“We’ve got to get one through nine to have competitive, quality at-bats up and down the lineup,” he said. “We’ve got to work the counts, go deeper into them and see more pitches. You can’t just do it one time during the game. We’ve got to start feeding off those at-bats and making the pitcher work.”

There was a flash of that in the seventh inning. Down 3-0 and held to one hit to that point, the Hoppers strung together several good at-bats, starting with John Norwood’s walk. After he stole second base, Arturo Rodriguez singled him in. K.J. Woods fouled off about half a dozen pitches before crushing one off the top of the wall in right center field for a double. A ground ball by Brian Schales up the middle drove in two runs. Roy Morales drew a walk to load the bases and Zach Sullivan got a run home on a fielder’s choice.

“That was an unbelievable at-bat by Woods,” Randel said.

The Hoppers had seized control of the game, taking a 4-3 lead amid an impressive display of lightning and some huge claps of thunder around NewBridge Bank Park.

Then they gave it right back.

Kelvin Rivas came on in relief to start the eighth and promptly walked the first two batters on eight pitches. That set the stage for a three-run rally by the Crawdads to regain the lead. The Hoppers went quietly in the eighth and ninth innings.

“Just when you think you’ve broken out of it, things spiral out of control,” Randel said.

Rivas, appearing in his third game as a Hopper, had pitched four scoreless innings in his first two outings, but just didn’t have it when he entered the game.

“You’ve got to get a shutdown inning there,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “That wasn’t an ideal time for walks.”

NOTES: The series wraps up with a 12:30 game Tuesday with Ben Holmes starting for the Hoppers … Greensboro managed only four hits, but had several hard-hit balls that were caught deep in the outfield or lined to an infielder. Hickory third baseman Juremi Profar, younger brother of the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar, made the play of the game against Rony Cabrera, spearing a hot grounder with a dive, then somehow flicking an accurate throw to first from a near-prone position.

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