Bill Hass on Baseball:Run in the ninth inning beats Hoppers

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

Run in the ninth inning beats Hoppers

Stuck on three.

The Hoppers have played excellent baseball the last two weeks despite not being able to win more than three games in a row. Another three-game streak was stopped Sunday when Lexington scored in the top of the ninth for a 3-2 victory at NewBridge Bank Park.

Despite the loss, the Hoppers have still won nine of their last 13 games and stand 20-15 on the season.

This was an odd game, particularly in the fifth inning. After the Hoppers’ Sean Townsley and the Legends’ Matt Tenuta, a couple of left-handers, put up zeroes for four innings, Lexington broke through with two runs in the fifth.

But to do it, they had to parlay a double, a sacrifice and a throwing error by third baseman J.T. Riddle, two stolen bases, a walk and a throwing error by Townsley — all in the first four batters — to score twice.

Townsley might have made a play at the plate when Humberto Arteaga broke for home on a weak tapper by Carlos Garcia to the left of the mound. But he fielded it and threw wide to first base as the second run scored.

“He wasn’t committed to the play at the plate,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “He was going to first base all the way. You’ve got to use your instincts and reactions, know the situation and be ready.”

Townsley actually did a good job of limiting the damage to two runs there. For his five innings he allowed three hits and a walk while striking out six. Powell said he liked the way Townsley used a biting curve ball.

Greensboro answered with an equally strange two runs in its half of the fifth. With one out, Riddle singled and Rehiner Cordova walked and they moved up on a wild pitch. Riddle scored on another wild pitch and Cordova scored on Austin Dean’s sacrifice fly. Yefri Perez walked and stole second base but was picked off to end the inning.

The score stayed tied until the top of the ninth. Matt Milroy relieved Townsley to start the sixth and breezed through 3 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts. But with two outs in the ninth, Samir Duenez had a soft single to left and Garcia laced a triple to deep right center to score him. That ended Milroy’s scoreless streak at 18 2/3 innings and saddled him with the loss.

“A live fastball provides all the power,” Powell said. “(Garcia) put a good swing on it and it went to the deepest part of the park.”

The Hoppers were held to four hits, two by Riddle, but drew six walks and couldn’t take advantage of them. Felix Munoz just missed a home run in the sixth when his high drive curled foul. He settled for a walk.

The teams play again Monday at 7 p.m. with Max Garner drawing the start for the Hoppers. The offense should pick up some punch with the return of shortstop Justin Bohn, who missed a couple of games after being hit on the wrist with a pitch.