Miscues costly as Hoppers drop 7-6 decision
Just too many mistakes.
That was the case for the Hoppers Saturday night as three physical errors and one mental error proved costly in a 7-6 loss to Kannapolis.
“We did a great job of battling back,” said manager Jorge Hernandez, “but the difference was giving them way too many extra outs. We’ve been playing pretty decent baseball. Tonight was just not our night.”
The Hoppers came back from a 4-0 deficit to tie things and from 7-4 to get within one run. They threatened in the bottom of the ninth but couldn’t push across the tying run.
Greensboro continued to get good production from its 3-4-5 hitters. Jesus Solorzano had three hits and scored twice. Viosergy Rosa belted a long two-run homer to slice the lead to 7-6 in the eighth. It was his second homer in two nights and 13th of the season. Yordy Cabrera also had a two-run homer, his 10th of the year, second in two nights and fifth in 11 games. And the No. 6 hitter, Cody Keefer, had a two-run double.
The pitchers were not at their sharpest. Starter Matt Milroy gave up four hits, five walks and four runs in five innings. Brian Ellington gave up two runs, one unearned, in two innings. Miguel Fermin was touched for another run in his two innings, although he probably deserved a better fate.
The biggest defensive miscue wasn’t even scored as an error. In the top of the eighth, Michael Marjama led off with a bunt down the third base line. Cabrera, instead of charging in, waited for it to roll foul but it never did, winding up going past the bag into short left field. Marjama wound up on second with a double.
“That was a mental error,” Hernandez said. “Even if he fields it and it’s an infield hit, there’s a man on first instead of second.”
Michael Johnson followed with another bunt that he beat out for a hit, putting runners at the corners. Fermin struck out Juan Ramirez for the first out, but Justin Jirschele’s grounder to second scored Johnson for an important add-on run.
In the bottom of the ninth, against Kannapolis closer Zach Ister, Michael Main singled and moved to second on a sacrifice by Tony Caldwell. Alfredo Lopez grounded out, with Main moving to third. After Cameron Flynn walked, Anthony Gomez hit a high chopper that deflected off the glove of the leaping Ister. Second baseman Micah Johnson made the adjustment on the ball, fielded it and threw to first to get Gomez on a close play.
“I was out,” Gomez said. “A safe call would have been nice, but Johnson made a real nice play.”
Micah Johnson has been a thorn in the Hoppers’ side for two games. He went 3-for-4 Friday and 2-for-3, plus a walk and two runs scored, Saturday. He also stole two bases, running his league-leading total to an astounding 49.
The teams play a doubleheader Sunday, with the first of the seven-inning games beginning at 2 p.m. Austin Brice will start Game 1 and Dejai Oliver Game 2.
“The key in a short game is to score as many runs as you can early to put pressure on them,” Hernandez said. “And winning the first game is huge.”