Bill Hass on Baseball:Townsley sharp as Hoppers gain split

“I felt good from the start,” he said. “I was well-rested and my off-speed pitches were solid. I watched the first game and got to see what kind of pitches they were hitting.”
Sean Townsley, Greensboro Grasshoppers’ pitcher from High Point University…..

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

Townsley sharp as Hoppers gain split

There were a few things that might have thrown Sean Townsley off his game Friday night.

As the pitcher in the second game of a doubleheader, he didn’t take the mound until 8:40 p.m., considerably past the usual time for a starter. The temperature had dipped to a nippy 58 degrees, with a wind that had the flags snapping. And he was facing a team that had pounded out 13 hits in the opener.

None of that fazed the left-hander from High Point University. He throttled the Rome Braves, allowing one hit in six innings to lead the Hoppers to a 4-1 win and gain a split on the night. Townsley earned his first professional victory, retiring 18 of 19 batters and making it look rocking-chair easy.

“I felt good from the start,” he said. “I was well-rested and my off-speed pitches were solid. I watched the first game and got to see what kind of pitches they were hitting.”

Mixing his fastball in with his breaking pitches, Townsley kept the Braves off-balance. He retired the first eight hitters, gave up a single through the middle, then set down the final 10 batters he faced. Sean Donatello finished the ninth in a non-save situation.

“It was an outstanding performance,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “He looked crisp and strong and didn’t fatigue like we’ve seen him do. He kept the ball down, pitched ahead in the count and pitched inside effectively. You do those things and you’ll be successful.”

Townsley doesn’t throw a blazing fastball, topping out at 88-89 miles per hour. But he’s 6-feet-7 with good extension, so it comes in at a difficult angle for hitters.

“It’s deceptive and he kept it down in the zone,” said catcher Sharif Othman. “He commanded the zone well and was able to throw any pitch in any count.”

It was the longest outing of the season for Townsley, who normally shares the “piggyback” slot with Matt Milroy. But since Thursday’s game was rained out and made up as one of two seven-inning games Friday, Townsley got some extra work.

“I took it inning by inning,” he said. “I didn’t know if they would let me come out for the sixth, but JP (Powell) asked me how I felt and I said I felt great.”

Felix Munoz homered for the Hoppers while J.T. Riddle got two hits and an RBI and Justin Bohn added a sacrifice fly.

Rome won the opener 8-3, breaking things open with six runs in the fifth inning off Jarlin Garcia, who paid the price for leaving the ball up in the zone. Austin Dean hit a two-run homer and Carlos Lopez had three hits and the other RBI.

“We were flat in the first game, sort of going through the motions, waiting for something to happen,” said manager David Berg. “And they (the Braves) made it happen. The second game was a good one.”

The Hoppers head on the road while the ACC baseball tournament is played at NewBRidge Bank Park next week. Greensboro starts a four-game series with Augusta Saturday, followed by four at Rome. Milroy will start the first game of the trip, followed by Max Garner, Ryan Newell and Domingo German.

NOTES: Jorge Hernandez managed Greensboro last season and was the first person to the side of Ramon del Orbe when the pitcher was hit by a line drive in Charleston, WV. Del Orbe suffered a fractured skull and underwent two operations, but nine months later he pitched three innings in his comeback with the Hoppers. Among those watching him Wednesday was Hernandez, now the Marlins’ infield coordinator. “It gave me goose bumps,” Hernandez said. “I’m so glad he’s doing well. It doesn’t surprise me that he came back this fast because he’s a hard worker, he has a good attitude and you could tell he was going to do everything in his power to get back. It was good to see him competing again and doing what he loves to do.” … Second baseman Avery Romero was put on the disabled list for precautionary reasons with some inflammation in his wrist. Kentrell Dewitt was activated … J.T. Riddle is 9-for-25 since coming off the disabled list.