Bill Hass on Baseball:Brown’s RBI caps 5-run Hoppers rally

Posted by Guest Columnist on August 16, 2017 at 11:06 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

Brown’s RBI caps 5-run Hoppers rally
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball at

Micah Brown could see it in his mind.

“In the seventh inning, I was standing next to one of our pitchers (Max Duval) and I said ‘I’m going to walk this game off,’” Brown related.
And in the ninth inning, he did just that. Brown singled sharply up the middle to drive in the winning run as the Hoppers scored five times in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat Delmarva 12–11.

It was a crazy, improbable win and one the Hoppers needed. When all of Tuesday’s results were in, the Hoppers found themselves in a three-way tie for second place in the Northern Division of the SAL. Hickory leads with a 31–20 record, three games ahead of Greensboro (27–22), Hagerstown (27–22) and West Virginia (28–23).

For Hoppers manager Todd Pratt, the comeback win was a microcosm of the way things have gone all year.

“The way this played out tonight was the story of our season,” Pratt said. “We kept scrapping back all night. We don’t have the prospects (that other teams have). We have baseball players.”

The Hoppers trailed 5–0 after three innings, 9–3 after four-and-a-half innings and 11–7 going into the bottom of the ninth. They overcame a Delmarva offense that had two batters, Collin Woody and Preston Palmeiro, with five RBIs apiece.

Woody, a UNCG alumnus, had a career night with three home runs and a triple for 15 total bases. Palmeiro, who played at N.C. State, had a homer and two doubles. Jake Ring had three more hits and the other RBI for the Shorebirds as the middle of the lineup accounted for 10 of the Shorebirds’ 14 hits.

Woody, drafted in the 38th round last summer, had five homers and 40 RBIs coming into the game. He hit a solo homer to left field in his first at-bat, another solo homer to left his second time up and a two-run homer to right-center in his third trip. All three came off Hoppers starter Brandon Miller.

The Hoppers finally got Woody to pop out in his fourth at-bat, but in the ninth inning he slashed a triple into the left-field corner that drove in a run.

Because they kept coming back from large deficits, the Hoppers put up some impressive numbers, too. Brian Miller had four doubles, four RBIs and three runs scored. Eric Gutierrez had three hits and four RBIs. Luis Pintor added three more hits, three runs and an RBI. Jarett Rindfleisch belted his fourth homer of the year, a two-run shot.

“I don’t think I’ve ever done that,” Miller said of his four doubles. “It was a great game to be a hitter.”

The Hoppers got some breaks, too. Delmarva starter Jhon Peluffo, who held them hitless for the first three innings, had to leave between innings with an injury. In 17 1/3 innings against Greensboro this season, Peluffo allowed no runs. After his departure, the Hoppers beat up the Delmarva bullpen for all 12 runs, scoring six off Cody Dube and five off Jake Bray.

And things went Greensboro’s way in the ninth inning, too. After J.C. Millan singled to lead off, Jhonny Santos shattered his bat but his soft popup dropped in for another single. Pintor then singled in Millan to make it 11–8. Miller doubled to left to drive in Santos, with Pintor stopping at third.

Aaron Knapp struck out for the first out. Gutierrez hit a grounder up the middle that deflected off Bray’s glove and then off second baseman Alejandro Juvier’s glove. Pintor and Miller scored to tie the game 11–11.

The Shorebirds replaced Bray with left-hander Tyler Erwin, who promptly hit Trenton Hill. Rindfleisch hit a slow roller to shortstop Milton Ramos, who bobbled it and couldn’t make a play. Everyone was safe to load the bases and bring up Brown, who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

“When I was on deck, I looked at Duval and smiled,” Brown said. “I had been envisioning me driving in the run. I was prepared and confident and I got the opportunity. I had been trying to do too much the whole game. I knew I had to be ready for the first pitch and just take what the pitcher gave me.”

Brown had joined the Hoppers on the road, promoted from Batavia when James Nelson went on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. When it mattered the most, he delivered a solid single to center to score Walker Olis, pinch-running for Gutierrez, and set off a mad celebration in the infield.

“I can feel the energy on this team, their competitiveness,” Brown said. “This team loves to fight, and so do I.”

The unsung hero for the Hoppers was pitcher Jared Lakind. After the Shorebirds scored nine runs in the first five innings, the left-hander shut them out in the sixth, seventh and eighth to allow the Hoppers to get back in it.

“When he came here after being released by Pittsburgh, he was scuffling to get his delivery and confidence back,” said pitching coach Mark DiFelice. “Every outing he’s gotten better and tonight was the culmination of that. His breaking ball was the best it’s been all year, he threw his changeup for strikes and his fastball was down in the zone.”

Lakind was the only pitcher to retire Woody, getting him to pop up on an inside fastball.

NOTES: Evan Beal, who gave up two runs in the ninth inning, was the winning pitcher after the Hoppers rallied … The teams play the second game of the series Wednesday at 7 p.m. with Ethan Clark the starter for the Hoppers … Relief pitcher Ryley McEachern, who had been on the disabled list, was released.

+++++Brian Miller’s four doubles ties the SAL record. He’s the eighth player to do it. Last was Jacob Morris of Kannapolis on May 26, 2014.

Two players have hit four homers in a game — Pat Garmin of Gastonia in 1988 and Tony Mongeluzzo of Savannah in 2002.

Woody’s 15 total bases are one short of the record. Garmin and Mongeluzzo, of course, plus Scott Kidd of the Greensboro Bats in 1999 and Tom McGee of Delmarva in 1999. I know Kidd hit three homers in that game (it was on the road) but I don’t know how he accounted for the other four bases.+++++

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