Bill Hass on Baseball:“Turning brain off” works for Goetz

from Bill Hass with ‘Bill on Baseball’ at

“Turning brain off” works for Goetz

So what explanation does Ryan Goetz have for the hot streak he’s on for the Hoppers?

“I’m seeing the ball pretty well,” he said. “So I’m turning my brain off and not thinking too much. I just want to keep it as simple as possible.”

Goetz added three more hits and scored three runs Tuesday night in the Hoppers’ 11-2 win over Kannapolis. He also picked up three hits Monday. Over the last six games he’s 13 for 29 with nine runs scored.

The versatile Goetz — he filled in at shortstop while Terrence Dayleg was on the DL — is playing left field and batting leadoff.

“I used to hit lower in the order when I was in college (UC-Riverside),” he said, “anywhere from third to sixth. In my senior year I hit in the two-hole. I led off some at Jamestown last year and that has carried over. I just try to be a sparkplug there.”

Incidentally, Goetz sports a full Fu Manchu mustache that he plans to keep, especially as long as he’s hitting .336 and the team is playing well.

“Winning is definitely contagious,” he said. “We feed off of each. I feed off my teammates and I hope they feed off me. We just want to keep the momentum going.”

The Hoppers are now 27-10 and leading the Northern Division by six games over Hagerstown. They’re 17-2 in NewBridge Bank Park and have won 13 straight games at home.

Tuesday’s win was deceptive. After jumping to a 3-0 in the first inning, the Hoppers didn’t score again until the bottom of the sixth when Ryan Rieger hit his first home run of the year. That gave them some breathing room at 4-2.

It was still tight in the top of the seventh when Kannapolis threatened by loading the bases with one out. But Brad Mincey, who throws a sinkerball, got Leighton Pangilinan to hit a ground ball that Mincey speared. He lobbed the throw home for one out and catcher Wilfredo Gimenez smoked a throw to first base to nip the runner and complete the double play to end a potentially big inning.

The Hoppers then scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh to snuff any further comeback hopes for the Indimidators. Brent Keys had three hits to lift his average to .380, four other players had two hits and Josh Adams drove in three runs.

Adam Conley picked up his fourth win, although he wasn’t at his sharpest. He didn’t have his best command and gave up seven hits in five innings. Constantly working with men on base, he threw 90 pitches. Still, said pitching coach Blake McGinley, he gave up just one hard-hit ball and battled through the adversity.

The game ended on a fine double play when Dayleg ranged to his left and dove to smother a ground ball. While still on the ground he flipped it to second baseman Austin Barnes, who made the pivot and launched a good throw to first to double up the runner.

“They play hard until the last out,” said manager David Berg. “It was a tremendous double play.”

The three-game series wraps up with a 12:30 game Wednesday. Jose Fernandez, 4-0, will pitch for the Hoppers.