Bill on Baseball:Hoppers to finish one game, play another

from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball at

Hoppers to finish one game, play another

After five innings of playing through a steady, chilly rain Saturday at NewBridge Bank Park, nothing was resolved.

The Hoppers and Kannapolis were locked in a scoreless tie when umpires sent the teams off the field at the end of the fifth inning. About 40 minutes later, the game was suspended.

It will be completed starting at 4 p.m. Sunday and will be followed by a nine-inning game. The Hoppers checked with the South Atlantic League office and were told they must complete the suspended game Sunday and play the full nine innings of the scheduled game.

“It’s tough to play in those conditions,” said manager Jorge Hernandez. “Cold, wet, rainy — just bad.”

Chipper Smith pitched all five innings for the Hoppers and Tony Bucciferro matched his effort for Kannapolis. Neither will be on the mound Sunday. Blake Logan, who was warming up in the fifth inning, will begin the day for the Hoppers. Dejai Oliver will be the starter for the second game.

Smith was in constant trouble, giving up three hits, walking three and hitting a batter. But he extricated himself from every situation, using five strikeouts to his advantage.

“You have problems with the grip (on the ball) and the landing,” said pitching coach Blake McGinley of the conditions. “It’s not fun. But he battled through it.”

The Intimidators helped Smith with a baserunning blunder that turned into a double play in the second inning and the Hoppers made a terrific defensive play to save a run in the top of the fifth.

With two outs and Cleuluis Rondon on second, Jason Coats lined a base hit to right field. As Rondon was waved around third, Cameron Flynn came up with the ball quickly and made a good throw home to catcher Jose Behar.

The throw was a bit to Behar’s left, but he fielded the ball while keeping his left leg out to block the plate, then got Rondon with a swipe tag.

The Hoppers got three hits, including two doubles, and drew two walks off Bucciferro. But they never got the leadoff hitter on base and couldn’t manage a clutch two-out hit.