Fu Manchu disappears, home runs arrive:Bill Hass on Hoppers Baseball

from Bill Hass at www.gsohoppers.com>

Fu Manchu disappears, home runs arrive

The Hoppers’ Ryan Goetz laughed at the notion that his two-game power surge is because he shaved his Fu Manchu moustache.

“It was halfway through the Delmarva series (on the road),” said Goetz, who retains the ‘stache across his upper lip. ”There was really no reason.”

Goetz had no homers through the Hoppers’ first 49 games. He launched his first Monday night, a grand slam, in a 9-7 loss to Hagerstown.

“Last time I hit a grad slam? 2008 in summer ball,” he said.

That one helped the Hoppers to a six-run rally in the bottom the the ninth, but the team still came up short. Tuesday night, they were locked in a scoreless tie with the Suns in the bottom of the fifth inning. Ryan Rieger and Wilfredo Gimenez singled and Goetz ripped a line drive that cleared the right field fence for his second homer, staking the Hoppers to a 3-0 lead.

“It was a fastball in and a little up,” he said. “I knew I hit it well and it got out (of the park) fast. I was hoping it would stay up.”

So in the last two games Goetz has matched his output of home runs at Jamestown last season and increased his RBI total from 13 to 20. He doesn’t expect to suddenly turn into a home-run hitter; instead he’s looking for ways to help the team from the leadoff spot. He did think Monday’s homer and the way the team rallied had a carryover effect.

“It was a lot better than just going one-two-three in the ninth and not grinding out our at-bats,” he said.

The Hoppers picked up an insurance run in the eighth when Rieger’s single scored James Wooster.

Greensboro once again got fine pitching from the tandem of Jose Urena and Austin Brice. Urena allowed one hit, a single in the fifth inning, and struck out five in five innings to pick up his fourth win. Brice picked up his third four-inning save and fanned nine, although he did give up a two-run homer to the Suns’ Jason Martinson in the ninth.

“He was sitting on a fastball,” Brice said. “It was almost like it was in slow motion; I could see his hips clearing. It’s always nice to get the save. You really have to stay focused for those four innings.”

Pitching coach Blake McGinley said Urena controlled his delivery well, throwing in the bottom of the strike zone with good command.

Urena, with Jose Fernandez translating, said he didn’t throw enough first-pitch strikes but his two-seam fastball and slow curve were working well.

“I don’t think about it,” he said of the piggyback arrangement with Brice. “I just try to do my best no matter who I’m facing. I’m happy with my outing tonight.”

Although the Hoppers have won seven of 10 and lead Hagerstown by 6 1/2 games, manager David Berg said the team has been scuffling offensively recently.

“We’re not in sync, not doing the little stuff like we were,” he said. “It seems like they’re not having as much fun. I’m a little frustrated.”