Bill Hass on Greensboro Grasshoppers Baseball:Barnes executing his hitting plan

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Barnes executing his hitting plan

Austin Barnes has no problems settling in behind the plate.

Although he has played mostly second base this season for the Hoppers, he was drafted as a catcher. Friday night he got his 12th opportunity to catch a game and helped the Hoppers to a 7-4 win over Delmarva.

“It’s a different game and a different pace,” Barnes said, “but I feel comfortable there. I like it a lot. It’s definitely a different mentality, but I’ve done it the last three years (at Arizona State).”

Sometimes players have trouble separating their defense from their offense, letting one affect the other if things are going badly. But it’s no problem for Barnes, even when he shifts to catching. He had a double and a two-run homer Friday and scored three times.

“I’m not catching every game so I don’t get tired at the plate,” he said. “I feel good right now. I have a plan and I’m executing it.”

Barnes said he got an inside fastball that he pulled for a home run, his ninth of the season, in the fourth inning against Delmarva starter Matt Taylor. His best-hit ball of the night came in his last at-bat when he drove one deep to center field that was caught.

“I don’t have enough power to hit it out to straightaway center,” he said.

Hitting coach Frank Moore said Barnes, now hitting .315 on the season, is being aggressive with balls in the strike zone.

“He’s swinging at good pitches and finding the holes,” Moore said. “He’s driving balls he can hit.”

Manager David Berg said Barnes is always ready for his at-bats and has a good, consistent approach. And he likes him behind the plate, too.

“He’s a good receiver,” Berg said. “He doesn’t move around and he’s small, so it gives a good look to the umpire.”

Other Hoppers swung the bats well. Josh Adams had a two-run double, Austin Nola had RBIs on a single and a double and James Wooster had two hits, including a triple. The beneficiary of the hitting was starter Josh Hodges, who allowed two runs in six innings and squared his record at 7-7.

Hodges had runners on all night, allowing eight hits that included a home run, a triple and two doubles. He also walked two. But he kept pitching out of trouble, especially in the third when he gave up a leadoff triple and retired the next three hitters to strand the runner. He also got out of a bases-loaded mess in the fifth.

The win was the third straight for Greensboro, now 19-23 in the second half.

“It’s a matter of time before we start clicking again,” Barnes said. “We’re playing pretty good baseball and we need to carry it on.”

A new pitcher has been added to the Hoppers’ bullpen. Left-hander Frank Reed was promoted from Jamestown, where he was 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 10 games. Submarine right-hander Collin Cargill was promoted to Double-A Jacksonville.