HOPPERS SCORE THREE IN 9TH TO BEAT COLUMBUS
By BILL HASS
GREENSBORO, N.C. â€“ On a steamy night worthy of flowery jerseys, John Raynor provided a tropical punch.
Raynorâ€™s single in the bottom of the ninth drove in the tying and winning runs to push the Greensboro Grasshoppers to a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Catfish Thursday. The game was played before 5,363 fans at First Horizon Park on the Hoppersâ€™ annual Tropical Jersey Night.
The players wore orange jerseys with white flowers that were auctioned off and autographed after the game.
â€œI loved them,â€ Raynor said. â€œIt was a very cool design and they were super light so the heat didnâ€™t seem as bad as it did (Wednesday). Everyone was pumped up and looking at themselves in the mirror when we put them on.â€
For a long time, the jerseys provided little help. The Hoppers were held to one run on five hits through eight innings by Catfish left-handed Ryan Morse and reliever Brian Baker.
Greensboro looked deflated after leaving the bases loaded without scoring in the eighth inning. But things changed quickly in the ninth with Columbus ahead 3-1. Adam Howard led off against Catfish closer Neal Frontz with a flare single to right field and Chris Hatcher followed with an infield hit.
Guillermo Martinez singled in Howard to make it 3-2. Greg Burns was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Raynor followed by ripping a line drive down the left field line to score Hatcher and Martinez.