from Will Cornelius, Hoppers’ Media:
GREENSBORO, NC — The Lake County Captains avoided their third consecutive loss Wednesday night, topping the Grasshoppers in game three of the current series.
The Hoppers scored first for the third time this series, but were unable overcome their four run deficit, ultimately falling to the Captains 5-1.
Shortstop Joel Staples drove in the Hoppersâ€™ only run of the evening, poking a single past the Captainâ€™s first basemen in the bottom of the third inning.
Staplesâ€™ single gave the Hoppers an early lead, but the Captains answered with back-to-back two run innings in the fourth and fifth to take a 4-1 lead. The Captains would tack on an insurance run in the top half of the eighth to ensure their first win of the series.
Hopperâ€™s lefty Brad Hand (2-4) led the Grasshoppers with an outstanding starting effort, tossing four scoreless innings before allowing four in his last two innings.
Handâ€™s six-inning performance breaks his season standard for innings pitched, as he failed to pitch beyond the fifth inning in any of his previous six appearances.
The hard throwing lefty took the hard luck loss for the Hoppers, finishing with just two earned runs on six hits. Hand worked effectively in the strike zone Wednesday, fanning four Captainsâ€™ hitters without issuing any free passes.
A zero in the walks column is a first for Hand, who has walked at least two in each of his six outings this season.
Relievers Andrew Loomis and Jared Yecker followed Hand with three innings of one run baseball, but the Hoppersâ€™ offense went 1-5 with runners in scoring position to leave four men on base and kill any chance of a rally.
Ben Lasater scored two hits in tonightâ€™ match up, and was the only Grasshopper with a multi-hit performance. Lasater, the owner of the Sally Leagueâ€™s third highest batting average, provided the first multi-hit game in his last six contests, bringing him back within striking distance of the league lead in average.
Daniel Pertusati, the Hoppers leading hitter in the last five games, failed to reach safely tonight, snapping his eight-game hit streak.
Danny Salazar (1-1) retired the first six hitters he faced, cruising through four scoreless innings en route his first win of the season. Salazar allowed just two hits over his five innings of work before the Lake County bullpen sealed the deal in the final three frames.
The Grasshoppers, now 21-18, will try for the series win this evening, as they match up with the Captains for the series finale on Thirsty Thursday. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
Media Relations, Intern