Hoppers Start Strong

The Greensboro Grasshoppers are off to the best start in the history of the franchise. This team has only been around for 2 years but this really has been a special beginning to year number two at First Horizon Park in beautiful downtown Greensboro. The weather has been super except for the Saturday night affair, but with the endings we have been seeing who cares about the weather.

Gabby “Hayes” Sanchez spoiled the fans with two walk-off homers in the first series with Hagerstown. The Grand Slam on Friday night was the kind of thing you see once in a lifetime, but Sanchez did it again on Saturday only this time he won the contest with a two-run shot. Sanchez was seeing the ball well early but after the second walk-off homer the Suns made sure they didn’t give Gabby anything to hit on Sunday afternoon. The Hoppers more than made up for the lack of production from Gabby and the team rode the pitching of 19 year old Sean West into the sunset. West is one of four first round draft picks on the pitching staff and the young guns well be expected to come around as the season progresses.

The Hoppers ran off 4 wins to begin 2006 with the sweep of the Hagerstown Suns in the first season series at FHP. The scores ran 11-7, 9-6, 8-7, and 3-0 and all of the games have the fans talking in and around FHP. The West Virginia Power finally caught the Hoppers on Monday night and shut out the hometown G. Hoppers 2-0. The 4-1 record didn’t get the Grasshoppers down at all as they went out and punished the Power in the Tuesday afternoon game that got under way at FHP at 12:30pm. The Hops displayed some power of their own as they connected for three homeruns and with solid pitching from Chris Volstad the Hoppers pulled off a 4-2 victory.

The Tuesday homers came from the bats of Jeff van Houten, Jon Fulton, and Augustin Septimo. Van Houten and Fulton hit solo shots and Septimo sent a two-run blast out of FHP, his second HR of the young season. Septimo has also shined defensively in the field for the Hoppers and his play at shortstop has the crowd oooing and awhing over and over again.

The attendance has been good and the team is playing very well here at the start of the season and the young pitching staff will keep getting better. This might turn out to be one heck of a year and we know it’s still early, but you like the fact that the team has gotten off to such a good start. Andy Jenkins is another Hopper that has contributed to solid early effort and he has been splitting time with Gabby Sanchez between first base and catching. Jenkins has 2 homers and numerous hits and seems to be fitting in nicely behind the plate and Sanchez looks like he fits better at first base. The players will tell you, they don’t care they play as long as they are in the lineup. They all want to help any way they can and that allows them to get at-bats and to be seen by the coaches and traveling instructors.

Sean West has a win and now Chris Volstad has a victory to his credit and with Blake Jones throwing hard out of the bullpen along with Daniel Barone and Mauro Zarate the Hops say Hop on board and ride with the team as they go for the top in 2006. The Hops are home Wednesday and Thursday to close out the 8 game homestand and we need to see you out at the ballpark. The crowd was listed at 9,110 last Thursday and let’s see a new record in place this week.