The Greensboro Grasshoppers have found First Horizon Park to be a lot like that place Dot(also known as Dorothy and Judy Garland) was talking about in the Wizard of Oz. “There’s No Place Like Home, There’s No Place Like Home”, that’s what Dorothy kept repeating in the WOZ movie. The Hoppers are not from Kansas or even Arkansas but Greensboro’s First Horizon Park is close enough to that old storm cellar that JG crawled into and Auntie M might be Mauro Zarate coming at you from around the corner.
Mauro Zarate is one of the Hoppers’ relief pitchers coming at ya from the bullpen and he got the win in the Hoppers 4-3 victory over the Lakewood, New Jersey Blueclaws on Saturday night. The word from the Radio broadcast booth was “Will you still love me tommorrow” or ToMauro, and as Zarate was coming into the game there was a “Search for ToMauro”. Zarate showed his Karate on the mound getting some key “K’s” and those big strikouts helped keep the Hoppers in the game and allowed Brett Hayes to come to the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning.
Hayes hit the ball right of First Horizon Park with a solo walk-off homerun that won the game for the Greensboro Grasshoppers and kept alive the hopes that the Hoppers could still make some noise about the playoffs in the second half. Hayes has become a big-time contributor for the Hoppers not only at the plate with bat in hand, but also behind the plate with catcher’s mitt on hand.
The Grasshoppers carried Saturday night’s win right into the Sunday afternoon matchup with the Lakewood Blueclaws and the GBGH got off to their best offensive start of the season. The Hoppers scored 4 runs in the first and then 3 more in the second inning to go way out in front early with a big 7-0 lead that stood on the scoreboard all the way until the top of the 9th inning.
The Hoppers starting pitcher Ryan Tucker got the win he’s now 4-9 with the victory on Sunday and the young man formerly known as “Tough Luck Tuck” saw his fortunes changing in a hurry. Tuck struck out 6 Blueclaw batters and only walked 2 through his seven innings on the hill. Tucker faced the minimum 18 LWBC hitters through 6 innings and went on to see just 22 LWBCs for the game again in his 7 innings of activity on the mound. Twenty-two men in 7 innings, you’d have to say Tuck was taking care of business on Sunday afternoon. We should say after that performance, “Keep on Tucking”. It had to be without a doubt Tuck’s best outing of the year. Only one concern was when time was called before he began to pitch in the 5th and the Hoppers’ manager Brandon Hyde, pitching coach Steve Foster, and trainer Ben Heimos came out to check on Tuck for some possible stiffness in his ankle which also became a concern for Tuck in game earlier in the season.
Blake Jones out of Clinton, Mississippi came into the game with only one man gone and the bases loaded in the 9th with 3 runs already on the board for the Blueclaws and the Hoppers closer got ‘er done taking down the Claws to pick up the save. It was Jones’ 16th save in 19 opprtunities so far during the 2006 season.
The Hoppers scored early and often and then held on to win their 12th game of the second half against 11 losses. The Grasshoppers are now 48-45 for the season and they have won two staright at home and 3 in a row overall. Gary Roche, Andy Jenkins, Johnathan Fulton, and Brett Hayes have been seeing the ball well the past couple of days and James Guerrero has been scoring key runs from his spot at the top of the GBGH batting order.
The Hoppers win 4-3 on Saturday and then again 7-4 on Sunday and they have Lakewood in town for 2 more days with action at FHP on Monday night and then there’s a day game Tuesday starting at 12:30pm. The Delmarva Shorebirds will be coming to Greensboro on Wednesday and staying around until Saturday.
The High School All-Star games have snuck up everyone this year and the Hoops will be at the Greensboro Coliseum on Monday evening, the Soccer at UNCG on Tuesday, and then the Football Game at Grimsley’s Jamieson Stadium on Wednesday night. The games go so quick now with boys and girls basketball having moved from Tuesday to Monday and the Football being on Wednesday instead of it’s old traditional Thursday night spot. Three fast days and the games have come and gone, but the All-Star Games are about the Coaches’ Convention, because without the Convention for the coaches at the Colisuem, the Games could not go on. The Coaches’ Convention brings in money that supports the ballgames and the games have to have that money to survive. If you take the gate from the games and try to carry on, the Games would have been stopped 10 years ago. Keep the Coaches coming and they can keep the Games going.
The Carolina Dynamo grabbed a road win on Sunday to stay unbeaten at 16-0-2 overall and 13-0-2 in league play. The Dynamo will close out the regular season at home versus Augusta this Saturday night. Augusta is the same team the ‘Mo beat in Georgia 2-1 back on Sunday. The “Mo will be in Houston, Texas for their US Open Cup game on August 2nd.