Bill on Baseball:Hoppers struggle on a long, hot, humid day

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

Hoppers struggle on a long, hot, humid day

The only thing worse than playing a doubleheader on a hot, humid day is having nothing to show for it.

That’s what happened to the Greensboro Grasshoppers Wednesday, as they dropped both ends to Asheville, 3-1 and 15-4.

After Tuesday night’s game was postponed by a monsoon, the field that became a lake was transformed into a playable surface by Jake Holloway and his hard-working grounds crew in time for the start of Wednesday’s first game at 11 a.m.

The field may have been ready but the Hoppers weren’t. Tourist pitcher Matt Flemer set down the first 12 Hoppers hitters before Viosergy Rosa led off the bottom of the fifth with his 16th home run. But the Hoppers never got another runner to second base. A single by Yordy Cabrera in the fifth and a single by Rosa in the seventh were the only other hits for Greensboro as Flemer, whose fastball only hit in the upper 80s, struck out seven and walked none.

“We didn’t get anything going in the first game,” said manager Jorge Hernandez. “(Flemer) changed speeds and kept us off balance.”

Scott Lyman was almost as good for five innings, allowing a run in the fourth. But after getting an out in the sixth, Lyman gave up a walk, a single and another walk to load the bases. Miguel Fermin relieved him in the messy situation and did his job, but too well. He struck out Dillon Thomas on a ball that hit either the dirt or the plate and bounced away from catcher Jose Behar. A run scored on what was ruled a wild pitch.

With Derek Jones up, Fermin uncorked one high and way outside, a second wild pitch that allowed another run in and made it 3-1. Those runs were charged to Lyman, who probably deserved a better fate.

“Those were split-finger fastballs that went a little too far,” Hernandez said. “The first one was blockable; the second was just wild.”

After Asheville tucked that game away, the Hoppers finally found some offense in the third inning of the second game. Mike Vaughan hit a long solo home run, Cameron Flynn doubled, Anthony Gomez singled in a run and Jesus Solorzano unloaded a two-run homer to make it 4-0 against Asheville’s Trevor Oakes.

Starter Chad James, with his pitch count closely monitored in just his second start, pitched three scoreless innings and was lifted. And that’s when things got ugly. Hernandez felt the Tourists were on the ropes, especially if Greensboro pitching could put up a zero in the top of the fourth in the seven-inning game.

But Matt Milroy gave up two runs to let Asheville back in the game and two more in the fifth to tie things. Jheyson Manzueta relieved Milroy and was tagged for four runs in the sixth. They were unearned, starting with Manzueta’s throwing error to first on a sacrifice bunt. On the next play, Manzueta fielded another bunt but his throw to third was late and the bases were loaded. In each case, the throw was lobbed instead of delivered crisply.

One run scored on a double play to make it 5-4, and the Hoppers still had a chance if things stayed there. But Manzueta issued a walk, then gave up a three-run homer to Tom Murphy and suddenly it was 8-4. Things got out of hand in the seventh when Asheville lit up Dane Stone for another three-run homer by Murphy and a grand slam by Matt Wessinger.

“Milroy struggled and we need to get him back on track,” Hernandez said. “Manzueta and Stone just didn’t have it today.”

The Hoppers banged out 10 hits in the second game, three by Solorzano, two by Flynn and two by Cody Keefer. But all their runs were packed into one inning and Oakes settled down after that.

Now 2-5 in the second half, the Hoppers will try to regroup with Delmarva moving in for four games. Ramon Del Orbe will start Thursday night.