Bill on Baseball:Hoppers spread hits around in 9-4 victory

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Hoppers spread hits around in 9-4 victory

It’s not always long home runs and line drives in the gap that help a team out of a hitting slump.

For the Grasshoppers Saturday night, some bloops, flares and seeing-eye grounders mixed in with some hard-hit balls added up to a 9-4 win over Hagerstown. The Hoppers totaled 14 hits, their first time in double figures in that stat since July 9, when they had 10 against Lexington.

“We got some big hits tonight,” said manager Jorge Hernandez. “Some of them weren’t pretty, but we had been hitting the ball hard right at people.”

There was a scary moment in the second inning when center fielder Jesus Solorzano and right fielder Cameron Flynn collided running after a deep fly hit by Stephen Perez. Solorzano went down and didn’t move. Flynn, who recently missed two weeks with a concussion, bounced up fairly quickly.

By the time the ball was picked up and thrown in, two runners had scored and Perez made it three with an inside-the-park homer.

Hernandez said Solorzano, who had to leave the game and was replaced by Juancito Martinez, suffered a bruise under his eye and cuts under his lip and on the back of his neck.

“It was head-to-head contact,” Hernandez said. “It was fortunate that only one was hurt instead of two. He didn’t have any concussion symptoms, but he may need a couple of days off.

“Neither one called for the ball. The center fielder has priority, but I asked him if he had called for it and he said he didn’t.”

That put the Hoppers in a 3-0 hole. Scott Lyman, who didn’t have his best stuff on the mound, battled his way through the next four innings and put zeroes on the board, eventually earning the win. Mason Hope allowed a run in two innings and Frankie Reed struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth in a non-save situation.

The Hoppers got one run back in the fourth on Flynn’s single that scored Martinez, who somehow avoided a tag at the plate. They took the lead with four runs in the sixth and put things away with four more in the eighth.

Flynn and Viosergy Rosa had three hits apiece and Anthony Gomez added two more. Flynn and Matt Juengel had two RBIs and Martinez and Flynn each scored twice. Two of the hardest hit balls of the night came on sacrifice flies, one by Cody Keefer and the other by Jose Behar.

Colin Moran returned to the team after missing two days and went 1-for-4. His single up the middle got the four-run rally started in the sixth inning.

Flynn had been mired in a 3-for-20 slump since being activated. He said he had been getting to the park early to take extra batting practice recently.

“I’m starting to get my timing back,” he said. “I’m picking up pitches better and not swinging at bad ones.”

After his concussion, Flynn didn’t even swing a bat for about 10 days.

“For the next two days (after getting hurt) I was out of it,” he said. “Noise and lights bothered me and I felt sick to my stomach. I feel fine now.”

Juengel had been on the temporarily inactive list for a week. He missed three days while attending a wedding but wasn’t activated until Saturday. To make roster room, Yordy Cabrera was promoted to Jupiter.

“When I got back I was doing everything I normally do, except not playing,” he said. “I coached a lot of first base, but I would rather play.”

Juengel was the victim of a prank earlier in the week. Hernandez called him in his office and told him he was being demoted to Batavia in the New York-Penn League. A fake itinerary was even prepared and left in his locker. Juengel was incensed as teammates came up to say goodbye — then they all erupted in laughter, having been in on the joke.

Juengel’s one hit Saturday was a double down the left field line in the sixth inning that drove in two runs.

“Tonight my first two at-bats were tough because my timing was off,” he said. “They were throwing me a lot of curves so I waited on one and got it. It wasn’t a great swing, but it found its way down the line.”

Hagerstown came to town with the best overall record in the league at 55-40. The Suns won the Northern Division’s first half to qualify for the playoffs.

The Hoppers evened their second-half record at 14-14. The second game of the series will be played Sunday at 4 p.m.