MORRISON HELPS HOPPERS SACK ROME 8-4
By BILL HASS
GREENSBORO, N.C. â€“ It all came back to Logan Morrison Monday night.
The first baseman snapped a deep slump with a bases-loaded double that propelled the Greensboro Grasshoppers to an 8-4 win over the Rome Braves before 4,748 fans at First Horizon Park.
Mired in a 2-for-29 slump, Morrison came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth and the game tied 2-2. He swung and missed at the first pitch, took a ball on the second, then unloaded a drive off the wall in center field to clear the bases.
â€œAt the beginning of a slump, you think youâ€™re going to get out of it and you donâ€™t press,â€ Morrison said. â€œThen it gets old and you start pressing and question yourself about your mechanics. You think you donâ€™t remember how to hit.
â€œOn that at-bat, I was looking for a ball I could hit in the air. Thatâ€™s why I swung at the first one, which was nearly over my head. On the third one, it was elevated enough that I put good wood on it.â€
It gave the Hoppers a 5-2 lead that got shaved to 5-4. Morrison was involved in an insurance run in the seventh when he hit a solid single with two outs, then broke for second base with Daniel Santin up. Santin doubled down the line and Morrison scored to make it 6-4.
The Hoppers added some additional insurance in the eighth when Justin Webb doubled, John Raynor walked and both scored on a double by James Guerrero.
â€œWe had a lot of clutch hits tonight,â€ said manager Edwin Rodriguez. â€œMorrison is just tired and when that happens, your mechanics are off and you try to do too much. Hopefully he will settle down now.â€
Spike McDougall added a pair of RBIs with a triple in the third inning and a single in the fifth. Raynor scored twice to push his runs scored to 105 and stole a base to give him 53, both tops in the South Atlantic League.
Rodriguez pointed to a key defensive play by third baseman Jake Blackwood in the fifth inning. With runners on first and third and no one out, Blackwood went to his right to spear a grounder by Romeâ€™s Travis Jones. Victor Hernandez broke off third base and was caught in a rundown and tagged out. Christian Martinez then got Brandon Hicks to hit into a double play to end the inning.
â€œIf that ball goes down the line, itâ€™s a different ball game,â€ Rodriguez said of Blackwoodâ€™s play.
Martinez pitched six innings, giving up all four Rome runs, but earned his eighth win. Benito Beato, Chris Leroux and Blake Jones pitched an inning apiece without allowing a run. The four Hoppers pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts.
Rome scored its runs on a pair of two-run homers, by Jones in the third inning and Yohan Silva in the sixth. It was the seventh for Jones, a seventh-round draft pick by Atlanta this year, and the 10th for Silva.
The teams play the third game of the series Tuesday at 7 p.m. at First Horizon.
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