Bill on Baseball:Big inning once again dooms Hoppers

from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

Big inning once again dooms Hoppers

It was the kind of replay that no team wants to go through.

Lakewood thumped the Hoppers 9-4 Saturday night in a game that was eerily similar to a 10-3 loss Friday. In Friday’s game, the Hoppers overcame a 2-0 deficit to gain a 3-2 lead, then gave up a six-run inning that put them in a deep hole from which there was no escape. Saturday, they cut a 3-0 lead to 3-2 and again surrendered a six-run inning, burying them in a 9-2 hole.

“It was a carbon copy of last night,” said manager Jorge Hernandez. “Home runs and big innings are killing us.”

The BlueClaws cranked out two more homers Saturday, two-run shots by Zach Taylor and Art Charles. That gave them six homers in two nights, nearly doubling their season total of eight coming into the series.

Starting pitching has been the culprit both games. Friday, Scott Lyman was charged with seven runs in 2.2 innings. Saturday, Ramon Del Orbe was tagged for all nine runs in 3.2 innings.

“We’ve got to keep battling and start pitching lower in the zone,” Hernandez said. “This is a small field and you have to keep the ball down.”

Pitching down in the zone is the key in any ball park, but mistakes are magnified when the dimensions are as tight as they are in NewBridge Bank Park, where the Hoppers are now 6-11.

“You can’t let little things rattle you,” said pitching coach Blake McGinley. “You have to locate your pitches. You know you’re going to give up a home run here and there, but make them solo homers and stay out of the big inning. You can’t get flustered.”

Austin Brice will start today’s 4 o’clock game as the Hoppers try to salvage a split of the four-game series.

NOTES: The relief pitching was solid, with Dane Stone, Brian Ellington and Miguel Fermin combining for 5.1 shutout innings … The Hoppers had eight hits, two each by Cody Keefer, Cameron Flynn and Anthony Gomez … In the bottom of the ninth Gomez hit his second homer of the season, a fly ball down the right field line that was ruled a fair ball inside the foul pole, despite vigorous protests from the BlueClaws … Miguel Nunez pitched six innings and improved to 4-0 for the BlueClaws, one-third of their wins this season … Lakewood center fielder Carlos Tocci made 10 putouts, including one sprinting catch of a long fly by Jesus Solorzano when he bounced off the fence and held on to the ball.