(Dove hunting season doesn’t officially start until Saturday but the Greensboro Grasshoppers are in the Hunt of Hickory and hope to catch the Crawdads before sundown on Labor Day Monday. Here’s what happened Sunday night after a strong outing by Kyle Winters and solid run support from Greg Burns, Scott Cousins, and Logan Morrison.)
HOPPERS BEAT LEGENDS, GAIN GROUND ON HICKORY
by Bill Hass from Bill on Baseball at www.gsohoppers.com
Feeling good while warming up doesnâ€™t always translate into success in a game, but it did Sunday night for Kyle Winters.
The right-hander pitched seven strong innings as the Greensboro Grasshoppers beat the Lexington Legends 7-2 before 5,617 fans at First Horizon Park.
The outcome kept the Hoppers in the Northern Division race. First-place Hickory (36-26) lost to West Virginia, so the Hoppers (33-30) shaved the Crawdadsâ€™ lead to 3Â½ games with seven remaining. Lake County (31-28) also won to remain tied with the Hoppers for second place.
â€œWeâ€™re just going out and trying to play the game right and play the best we can,â€ Winters said. â€œWhatever happens, happens. But I sure would like to catch those guys.â€
Winters improved his record to 8-3, striking out six and issuing no walks while surrendering two runs on eight hits.
â€œI felt like I had all my stuff with me in the pen,â€ Winters said. â€œI spotted my fastball, my curve felt really good and my slider and changeup were OK.â€
Manager Edwin Rodriguez liked the way Winters pitched out of some tough situations with runners on base.
â€œI was trying to throw off-speed stuff in those situations so they wouldnâ€™t have anything to sit on,â€ Winters said.
One mistake he made was hit for a solo home run by Koby Clemens that cleared the berm in left field with plenty to spare.
â€œHe killed that ball,â€ Winters said with a laugh. â€œI threw him a pitch he likes and he dropped his hands and killed it. It was just a solo home run and on this field, Iâ€™ve learned to accept giving up homers.â€
Jay Buente pitched a scoreless eighth and Blake Jones did the same in the ninth, getting a double play to end the game.
Offensively, the Hoppers played small ball on their first three runs, scoring on two groundouts and an error. Then they broke out the big bats, with Scott Cousins ripping a two-run homer and Logan Morrison doubling in two more.
Greg Burns had two hits, scored twice and stole three bases, putting him at 39 steals for the season. He manufactured a run in the third inning, leading off with a single, stealing second and third and scoring on a groundout by Cousins.
Greensboro finished the home stand with a 5-1 record and has won 11 of its last 14. It finished the season series against Lexington with a 9-4 mark.
The Hoppers head to Kannapolis for games Monday and Tuesday. Theyâ€™re off Wednesday and return to First Horizon Park for the last two home games of the season on Thursday and Friday