By BILL HASS
GREENSBORO, N.C. â€“ After a second straight night of benches clearing, a baseball game broke out Friday night.
Kannapolis wound up with a 9-7 win over Greensboro, the Intimidatorsâ€™ fourth straight win over the Hoppers.
The second-largest crowd of the season â€“ 9,024 fans â€“ filled First Horizon Park to bring the record season attendance to 441,109.
After Thursdayâ€™s brawl that ended with several players ejected and then reinstated to finish the game, things were uneventful in Fridayâ€™s first two innings. In the top of the third, Sergio Miranda of Kannapolis grounded into an inning-ending double play.
But on the play, a hard slide into second base triggered another incident that brought players from both teams on the field. The ensuing fight was shorter in duration than Thursdayâ€™s affair, but the game was delayed for about 20 minutes.
Three players were ejected â€“ Scotty Madsen of Kannapolis, along with Guillermo Martinez and James Guerrero of the Hoppers.(I thought John Shelby of Kannapolis was also told to leave the field and was escorted by a GPD officer into the tunnel and back to the clubhouse. Jim Modlin said something about it. Bill Self would know.)
In the fifth inning, the Hoppersâ€™ Logan Morrison was hit by a pitch by Carlos Perez, who was ejected by the home plate umpire. The game finished with no further incidents.
Kannapolis built an 8-0 lead in the first two innings, and that proved too much for the Hoppers to overcome. Seven of the runs came on homers â€“ a three-run blast by Brandon Allen, his 18th, and a grand slam by John Shelby, his 16th homer.
The Hoppers chipped away, getting five runs back before Kannapolis scored a single run in the sixth to extend the lead to 9-5. Greensboro added runs in the seventh and eighth to make it close. Adam Howard led off the ninth with a double, but reliever Ryan Rote got the next three outs to secure his sixth save.
Chris Hatcher had four hits for the Hoppers and Scott Cousins and Adam Howard added three each. Morrison ripped his 23rd home run, a long shot into Eugene Street.
The Hoppers (33-34) close the season with three games at the West Virginia Power, starting Saturday night.
****Thank-you Bill Hass for the fine work you have done this season with Bill on Baseball at www.gsohoppers.com*****