Bill Hass on Greensboro Grasshoppers big win at NBBP on Thursday night:Finally, something to celebrate

from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball at

Finally, something to celebrate

As he rounded third base after his game-winning home run, Ryan Rieger took off his batting helmet and tossed it in the air before disappearing into the throng of teammates waiting for him at home plate Thursday night.

“I was just excited and had the adrenaline going,” he said.

It has been awhile since the Hoppers have had something like that to celebrate. Rieger’s two-run shot came in the bottom of the 10th inning and carried Greensboro to a 4-3 victory over Hagerstown, snapping the Suns’ 7-game winning streak. It was just the Hoppers’ third win in their last 14 games.

“Everybody on this team is tired of losing,” Rieger said.

It was a game Hagerstown gift-wrapped, committing five errors, but for much of the night the Hoppers wouldn’t accept it. Down 2-0, they broke through with a pair of runs in the seventh. Rieger had a single in the inning and came around to score the second run on James Wooster’s two-out single.

In the top of the 10th the Suns regained the lead on an RBI single by Cutter Dykstra (son of Lenny Dykstra). The way things have been going for the Hoppers, another loss seemed imminent.

But Austin Barnes, just activated off the disabled list, reached on the Suns’ fifth error to open the inning. After Aaron Senne struck out, Rieger came up against Ben Hawkins, matching lefty vs. lefty. Rieger was hitting just .224 against left-handers with no home runs, although he had nine doubles and 15 RBIs against them.

Hawkins quickly got ahead two strikes but Rieger battled back to run the count to 3-and-2. Then he drilled a fastball far over the fence in right-center field.

“I heard Frank (Moore, the hitting coach) yell ‘trust yourself’ from the dugout,” Rieger said, “and that’s what I did. It felt good.”

Nygren picked up the win, his sixth of the season. Johnny Omahen contributed two perfect innings of relief. Starter Jose Urena pitched six innings and gave up two runs. In his last four starts, Urena has thrown 26 innings, given up 20 hits and seven runs, issued five walks, struck out 18 and has no decisions.

“He wasn’t at his best but he gave us six strong innings,” said pitching coach Blake McGinley. “Omahen really attacked the (strike) zone and Nygren battled. He gave up a leadoff walk that scored in the 10th but he got a big out to leave a runner in scoring position.”

Manager David Berg was glad to get a win in any fashion. He agreed this was the kind of game that might jump-start the team in the second half, but said it’s still making too many mistakes.

“When you’re going good, guys are relaxed, having fun and not trying to do too much,” he said. “When you’re struggling, you press the do silly things like missing signs. You can’t do that in the post-season where every game is so important.”