from Will Cornelius Hoppers’ media:
Savannah Uses Big Offense To Down Hoppers
GREENSBORO, NC — The Grasshoppers found themselves in another slugfest Tuesday, but wound up on the losing end of a back and forth scoring battle with Savannah, and ultimately fell to the Sand Gnats 11-7.
Grasshoppers starter Johnny Dorn, who holds the team standard for wins thus far, was roughed up early in the game, getting tagged for an early run in the first followed by a three spot two innings later.
The long ball proved to be the pitfall for Dorn, as the Hoppersâ€™ opening day starter surrendered a pair of homers on the day, one in the third, and another in the fifth.
Savannah jumped on Dorn in the first with some added help from the wall in right field. Speedster Raul Reyes led off the opening frame with a triple that rattled around in the right field corner, and trotted home one batter later on a sacrifice fly from Jefrey Marte.
Dorn worked out of the inning after Kyle Skipworth cut down a would-be base stealer for the final out of the inning.
Despite a scoreless second, Dorn let the deep ball get the best of him in the third, seeing the red-hot Sean Ratliff extend his 14-game hitting streak with a three-run shot over the wall in right field.
Ratliff found himself in the middle of things again in the fifth frame, taking Dorn yard for the second time on the day, blasting another three-run shot to help the Sand Gnats overcome a one-run deficit.
Dorn made his exit after the big fly, and finished having allowed seven runs on eight hits.
But Dorn wasnâ€™t the only pitcher to run into a buzz saw for the evening. Savannah starter Robert Carson, who entered the game with a sleek 2.53 ERA, had his fair share of trouble with the Hoppersâ€™ lineup.
Carson allowed three quick runs to the Hoppers, as the home team struck with three consecutive singles followed by a bases-clearing double off the bat of Jeremy Synan in the first. They would tack on one more run in the ensuing at-bat, where Paul Gran delivered just his fourth homer of the season, but his second in as many games versus the Sand Gnats.
A Kevin Mattison home run to begin the fourth inning was the final straw, capping off a five spot the Hoppers hung on the Savannah lefty. With the blast, the Hoppers sent Carson packing and set their sights on reliever Manny Olivares.
Olivares faired slightly better than his predecessor, but still allowed three hits and one run over three innings to help to Hoppers emerge with a two-run advantage.
With both starters out after the fifth inning, game three became a battle of the bullpens. Olivares out-pitched his counterpart, Bryan Evans, to keep his club in the ballgame and help Savannah establish a lead late in the game.
Evans came out in the sixth, but was knocked around early, as the Sand Gants struck for two runs over his inning and a third, and were back on top by the end of the sixth inning. Evans began the seventh, but was sent packing after he surrendered three singles.
Usually noted as a hold man, lefty Dan Jennings took the ball in order to close out the seventh inning. Jennings induced a fly ball for out number two, but pop fly proved deep enough to bring around another run.
The Sand Gnats had built a comfortable lead heading into the final two innings of play, but added two two-run innings in the seventh and eighth for good measure. Jennings finished the day with two runs of his own, as the Grasshoppersâ€™ pen failed to hold firm after Dornâ€™s exit.
But the offense couldnâ€™t muster any production after the fifth either, as the streaky Hoppers put up zeros in four straight innings. They finally broke through in the ninth, but managed only one run after Jeremy Synan, who finished the day a perfect 4-4 with three doubles and a triple, pounded his third double to begin the inning.
Kyle Skipworth singled him home one batter later, but never came around to score himself, as the Sand Gnats closed the door on game three by rolling a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
The Hoppers (46-55) have now dropped two straight to the Sand Gnats, and fall to nine games under .500 for the season. They will go for a series split in tomorrowâ€™s finale, and hope to swing momentum starting with a win tomorrow.
First pitch of the Wednesday afternoon contest is 12:35 p.m.
Media Relations, Intern
Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball