Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers can’t overcome a solo home run

Posted by Guest Columnist on August 7, 2016 at 10:03 pm under Professional | Comments are off for this article

Hoppers can’t overcome a solo home run
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

The smallest things can make the difference in a 1-0 game.

In the second inning of Sunday’s contest at NewBridge Bank Park, Micker Adolpho of Kannapolis hit a fly ball to left field that would have been an out in many ball parks. But it carried over the fence for a home run that a computer program measured at 333 feet.

In the fourth inning, Justin Twine of the Hoppers bashed a pitch that hit off the fence in left-center field, about 380 or 390 feet away. It went for a double instead of a homer.

And those two balls were the difference in a game that Kannapolis won 1-0.

“That’s how thin the margin is,” said Hoppers pitching coach Brendan Sagara. “If Twine’s ball is 10 fee to the left, it’s a homer. And if Adolfo’s hit goes anywhere but left field, it’s a popup.”

The Northern Division standings tightened up after Sunday’s results. Hagerstown is in first at 25-18, Hickory moved into second at 24-18, the Hoppers are third at 24-19 and Lakewood is fourth at 23-19. Only 1 1/2 games separate first place from fourth.

Splitting the four-game series with Kannapolis left the Hoppers 4-3 on the home stand. They take to the road for seven games, starting a three-game series at West Virginia Monday. After that, they move on to Columbia for four games. Of their remaining 27 games, 17 are on the road.

“Pitching has carried us all season,” said manager Kevin Randel. “Now we have to ask them to do it about 25 more games.”

The staff was up to the task Sunday. Starter Ben Meyer made it through four innings, allowing the home run among four Kannapolis hits.

“That’s just a fact of life of playing in Greensboro,” Sagara said of the homer’s moderate distance. “We’ve given up a lot of those.”

Relievers Isaac Gil and Steven Farnworth were perfect, retiring all 15 batters they faced (nine for Gil, six for Farnworth).

“You can’t ask for a better performance from Gil and Farnworth,” Sagara said. “They stayed in control, kept the game moving and gave us a chance to win.”

The problem was that Kannapolis starter Luis Martinez was stellar in six innings. He held the Hoppers to three hits, walked two, struck out seven and allowed only one mini-threat. That came in the sixth, when Kyle Barrett led off with a sharp single up the middle and Isael Soto reached on an error.

There was a large conference at the mound but Martinez stayed in the game. With his adrenaline flowing, the lanky right-hander (6-6, 190) struck out Angel Reyes, Aaron Blanton and Twine to polish off the inning. Two relievers finished the game, retiring nine of 10 Hoppers batters.

It was the sixth win of the year for Martinez and his third over the Hoppers. His line against Greensboro reads: 21 innings, nine hits, two runs, 9 walks, 24 strikeouts.

“He pitches backwards,” Randel said. “He scatters his fastball and pitches off his breaking ball. That’s not our strength. We’re a fastball-hunting team and we don’t hit off-speed well.”

Twine’s double came with two outs and he was stranded at second. The only runner to reach third was Kris Goodman, who walked to lead off the eighth and moved up on two groundouts. Reyes flied to center to leave Goodman there.

The Hoppers must find some offense on the road despite having their lineup depleted of two everyday players because of trades by the Marlins. They have to replace holes at the top of the order, where Anfernee Seymour stole 37 bases and scored 61 runs, and middle of the order, where Josh Naylor drove in 54 runs. While Barrett moves to the leadoff spot, the “auditions” for the cleanup role continue.

NOTES: Barrett had two of the Hoppers’ three hits … Reyes made two errors at first and Blanton made one at third … The Hoppers are finished playing the Intimidators this season … Greensboro wound up winning 11 of the 19 games.

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