Bill on Baseball:Hoppers gain split of series by pounding Delmarva

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

Hoppers gain split of series by pounding Delmarva

The Hoppers set a good example for kids to run the bases after Sunday’s game.

Greensboro had its best offensive output of the season in pounding Delmarva 11-2, giving it a split of the series. After dropping the first two games, the Hoppers came back to win Saturday and Sunday. It was the first time since early May the team has had back-to-back wins.

“Those are the best two games we’ve played all year,” said manager Jorge Hernandez. “We had good pitching, hitting and defense, and everybody contributed.”

Hernandez said it was the third straight game the Hoppers played well. Even though they lost 4-3 Friday night, he liked his team’s approach to the game.

“You could say it was a ‘good’ loss,” he said. “It was tough, but I’m happy with the way we bounced back the next two days.”

Sunday’s game was much closer than it appeared. The Hoppers led 2-0, saw Delmarva tie it up, regained the lead at 4-2, then erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

“Even at 2-2, in the dugout we knew we would come back, and that’s a good sign,” Hernandez said.

The game’s biggest blow came in the bottom of the sixth. After Tony Caldwell was hit by a pitch, Cody Keefer hit a high fly to right that drifted toward the foul pole but stayed inside and cleared the fence for a home run.

“I kept my hands back and hit it with the solid part of the bat,” Keefer said. “I didn’t think it would go foul, but I wasn’t sure it would carry out. We needed that spark to get us going again (after Delmarva tied it).”

The Hoppers have struggled to score runs this season, but in the eighth inning they took out some frustration. The highlights were a two-run single by Anthony Gomez and a three-run homer by Matt Juengel.

Jesus Solorazno led the 15-hit attack with four hits, including a pair of doubles, two RBIs and two stolen bases. Gomez, Juengel, Keefer and Tony Caldwell had two hits apiece. Gomez, Solorzano and Caldwell each scored twice.

“Hitting is contagious,” Juengel said. “We got two runs in the first and then we struggled until Keefer got us going. Then we took off.”

After a hot April Solorzano had been hitting only .149 in May. Hernandez moved him from fifth to third in the order and gave him a little advice.

“I told him ‘go back to who you are,’” Hernandez said. “Be an aggressive hitter. He had become too selective. What I wanted from him was to see as many pitches as he could in his first at-bat and be aggressive from there. That’s what he did.”

Three pitchers combined for an effective outing. Scott Lyman started and allowed two runs. Dane Stone and Frankie Reed each pitched two shutout innings. Stone earned his fourth win, tops on the staff. Reed was credited with a save, his third, because the score was 4-2 when he entered the game in the eighth.

Pitching coach Blake McGinley wouldn’t go so far as to say the pitching rotation has stabilized after consecutive good starts by Lyman, Mason Hope and Dejai Oliver.

“We’ll find out after this road trip,” he said.

That starts Monday when the Hoppers begin a three-game series at West Virginia, followed by four at Delmarva. Their task will be to sustain the momentum they created against the Shorebirds.