from Will Cornelius Hoppers’ media:
HOPPERS OUT PITCHED IN TUESDAYâ€™S FINALE
GREENSBORO, NC â€“ Grasshoppers lefty Brad Hand (3-10) fanned a career-high seven hitters to allow just four runs over six innings, but saw Lake County starter Danny Salazar best his efforts to pitch the Captains to a 4-2 win in the series finale.
Hand began the day in a tough spot, allowing a single and two walks to load the bases in the Lake County first. After getting a groundball for the second out of the inning, Captainsâ€™ first basemen Chris Nash delivered a two-out, two-RBI single on a line drive to right field.
The Hoppersâ€™ southpaw settled down after his shaky first, striking out the side in the fifth while adding a strike â€˜em out, throw â€˜em out and double play to blank the Captains with three straight scoreless innings.
The Captains picked up their second pair of runs in the fifth, connecting on two solo shots to extend their lead to four. Michael Valadez hit the first of the two blasts, a long fly to right field, before All-Star game MVP Karexon Sanchez lined his eighth homer off the scoreboard behind the wall in right field.
Hand finished the day with a career-high seven strikeouts, and held the visitors to just four runs over six innings. His outing, although a loss, marks just the seventh time he has pitched into the sixth inning, and the first time he has collected at least six strikeouts since April 17.
Not to be forgotten was reliever Jared Yecker, who followed Hand with three scoreless innings of his own to keep the Grasshoppersâ€™ offense within striking distance late in the game.
But frustration was the mood at the plate today for the Hoppers today, as they struck out 11 times on the day and left four men on base to go along with a 0-6 showing with runners in scoring position.
The Hoppers first run came across in the sixth, after a leadoff double sent Daniel Pertusati to second base with nobody out. Salazar worked his way to two outs with the help of two fly outs to left field. Salazar appeared to have weaseled his way past the leadoff two-bagger, but hurled two wild pitches to bring Pertusati around third and to the plate.
The Hoppers plated their final run in the next inning, as newcomer Ryan Keedy lined a single to left to begin the frame. Keedy hustled around from first to score the second run when Emilio Ontiveros turned on one past the outstretched third basemen for a double down the left field line, picking up the Hoppersâ€™ only RBI on the day.
Salazar didnâ€™t leave much for the Hoppersâ€™ offense after his six-inning, nine strikeout performance, but Jake Smolinski paced the Hoppers at the plate with his 2-4 day at the bat.
Absent from the hit column for the first time in ten games was Kevin Mattison, who snapped his 10-game streak by failing to reach safely in Tuesdayâ€™s afternoon loss that saw the Hoppers collect only five hits as a team.
With the loss, the Hoppers (40-42) dropped three of four from the Captains at home, and continue their struggles in the second half, where they have only won three games. They will continue things in tomorrowâ€™s contest, where the Hoppers welcome the Hagerstown Suns to town for a four-game series to end the current home stand.
First pitch of the Wednesday night ballgame is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Media Relations, Intern
Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball