The Will call on the Hoppers win over Hickory Friday night at NBBP

from Will Cornelius Hoppers’ media:

Hoppers Score Comeback Win In Finale

GREENSBORO, NC — The Hickory Crawdads used a strong pitching effort to hold the Grasshoppers to just one run over six innings, but eventually allowed two runs in the seventh to tie the ballgame, and another run in the ninth to give the Hoppers a dramatic win in the finale, 4-3.

The Hoppers, who had beaten Hickory starter Jake Brigham twice already this season, squeezed one early run off the Crawdad’s righty, seeing leadoff man Paul Gran reach after being hit by a pitch. Smelin Perez, in his Grasshoppers’ debut, sliced a double inside the left field line to score Gran, who hustled around from first.

Hickory responded with a run of their own in the following inning, plating one run off Hoppers’ starter Sandy Rosario to square things up at a run apiece.

The Crawdads would add a pair of runs in the following inning as well, as Rosario issued a two-out walk to Doug Hogan before Mike Hollander picked up two RBIs with a deep home run to left field, his first blast of the season.

With their two-run lead in tact, the Crawdad’s pitching staff went to work. Brigham, after having allowed the run in the opening frame, settled down to toss three scoreless innings before his exit.

Lefty Martin Perez entered the contest next, holding down the lead for an inning before Tyler Tufts took the mound at the start of the sixth inning.

Tufts landed in some hot water upon his arrival into the game, as Ben Lasater led off the inning with a line single to right field. Justin Jacobs notched a single of his own two batters later, but the Hoppers were unable to capitalize on the pair of hits, and entered the seventh still trailing by two.

The Crawdads’ reliever narrowly escaped the sixth inning, but couldn’t work past the home lineup again in the next inning, as the Hoppers used two singles and a double to scratch two runs against the Hickory right-hander.

With the score now tied, Bryan Evans (3-5) came on to register a perfect eighth inning, and got the Hoppers back in the dugout for a chance to take the lead in their ensuing at-bat.

Justin Bass gave the Hoppers a chance for late inning magic with a leadoff single to left field, and moved into scoring position on an overthrow from the outfield. The Crawdads intentionally walked newcomer Thomas Hickman to set up the double play, and saw their plan unfold beautifully as Emilio Ontiveros bounced into an inning-ending twin killing a few pitches later.

Evans toed the rubber again in the ninth, but ran into some trouble after surrendering back-to-back singles. With a base open, the Hoppers’ reliever put the next man on before striking out the following hitter for the third out of the inning.

The Hoppers capped off their comeback in the ninth, as Gran began things by reaching safely after a wild pitch sent the third strike to the backstop. The next hitter, Perez, who was working on a 2-3 night at the plate, sacrificed himself by dropping down a beautiful bunt to move Gran into scoring position.

Lasater, a clutch performer in the past, lofted his 29th double of the season into the right center gap to plate Gran and give the Hoppers a one-run win over the Crawdads in the series finale.

With the win, the Hoppers (51-59) have now taken nine games from the Crawdads this season, including three of four from the current series. The series victory is the first of the second half for the Hoppers, and inches them eight games closer to a .500 record.

The Hoppers look to continue their streaky play tonight when they visit the Kannapolis Intimidators for a four-game series. The Hoppers return home again on August 17th for an eight-game home stand, beginning with four games against the Bowling Green Hot Rods.

First pitch of Saturday’s away game against Kannapolis is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., while the August 17th match up versus Bowling Green is slated 7:05 p.m. as well.

Will Cornelius
Media Relations, Intern
Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball