Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers can’t take advantage of German’s effort

“Awesome, a tremendous outing,” said manager David Berg.

Hoppers can’t take advantage of German’s effort
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

At the end of Sunday’s game, Greensboro’s Domingo German had nothing to show for his performance against Hickory.

But rest assured, there was nothing “wasted” about his effort, even though the Hoppers dropped a 2-1 decision to the Crawdads.

The right-hander, making his first start of the season, was dominant through five innings, pitching shutout ball, allowing only two hits and striking out 10. When he left, the Hoppers had a 1-0 lead and he was in line for the win.

But Hickory scored twice in the top of the sixth inning and the Hoppers couldn’t squeeze out any more runs. That didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for German’s day, however.

“Awesome, a tremendous outing,” said manager David Berg.

German struck out two in the first inning, three more in the second, one in the third, two in the fourth and two in the fifth. Three times the Crawdads looked at a called third strike. Pitching coach Jeremy Powell said German’s breaking ball was freezing Hickory’s hitters. The Crawdads managed two singles in the first inning and none in the next four.

German threw 73 pitches, too close to the limit of about 80 to send him back out for the sixth inning.

Another strong effort was turned in by Miguel del Pozo. After giving up four runs in one inning of relief and taking the loss Thursday, the left-hander rebounded with three innings of shutout, hit-less ball.

“That was no surprise,” Powell said. “That’s the way he threw in spring training.”

The pitcher in between was Blake Logan. Even though he was touched for the two runs and absorbed the loss, neither Berg nor Powell found fault with his effort. A single, a walk and a two-run double by Hickory’s Nick Vickerson after a long at-bat did the damage.

And with a little luck, Logan could have been out of the inning. With two outs and the count 3-and-2, Vickerson lifted a high popup behind the plate that just cleared the backstop netting into the first row of stands. Vickerson then took a low breaking ball and dumped it into left field, where it scooted into the corner as both runners scored.

“Logan was fine,” Berg said. “He’s a lot better than when I saw him last year. He’s throwing strikes down in the zone and really competing.”

Hickory used three pitchers to hold Greensboro to five hits. Yohander Mendez pitched the first five innings and picked up the win. Kelvin Vasquez pitched 3 1/3 innings of one-hit ball and Ryne Slack got the last two outs to earn the save.

Juan Avila had two of the Hoppers’ hits, including a home run in the fourth inning. That was followed by a double by Carlos Lopez and it looked like the Hoppers might have Mendez on the ropes. But he retired the next three batters to strand Lopez.

Another big opportunity came in the seventh in Vasquez’ first inning of work. Avila singled and Austin Dean and Avery Romero drew walks to load the bases with two outs. Sharif Othman battled Vasquez, ripping one ball foul down the right field line. With the count 3-and-2, Othman hit a deep fly to right-center that looked as if it might be a grand slam. But center fielder Lewis Brinson made the catch on the warning track.

“He had a good at-bat,” Berg said, “and the ball was a tick high.”

After losing three of four to the Crawdads, the Hoppers are scheduled to start a three-game series with Lakewood Monday. Sean Townsley, the left-hander from High Point University, is scheduled to start the 7 p.m. game in NewBridge Bank Park. Matt Milroy will pitch in the “piggyback” role.