Bill Hass on Baseball:Kannapolis bashes Hoppers 12-8

“That’s a totally different team,” said Hoppers manager David Berg. “They didn’t look like that a couple of weeks ago.”

Kannapolis bashes Hoppers 12-8
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at…..

One thing about a split season in baseball is that everyone gets a fresh start when the second half begins.

That certainly applies to Kannapolis, which continued its good start to the second half by knocking off the Hoppers 12-8 Monday night. After finishing 29-38 in the first half, the Intimidators are 13-6 in the second half, tied with Greensboro and Hickory for first place in the Northern Division of the South Atlantic League.

“That’s a totally different team,” said Hoppers manager David Berg. “They didn’t look like that a couple of weeks ago.”

In the only previous series between the teams, June 12-15 in Kannapolis, the Hoppers were in a situation where they had to sweep four games to have a shot at winning the first half. And they did exactly that, clinching the first-half title in the last game. Hoppers pitching allowed just six runs and 29 hits in the series.

Three weeks later, the Intimidators banged out 16 hits and scored a dozen runs in one game. They hit three homers, including a grand slam by Trey Michalczewski that put them ahead for good, 9-6. Of four Greensboro pitchers, only C.J. Robinson escaped damage with two scoreless innings.

Starter Domingo German didn’t make it out of the fifth inning and was tagged for five runs. Miguel del Pozo was charged with four runs, on the grand slam, in one inning and Ryan Wertenberger gave up three more. In addition to giving up all those hits, the staff issued six walks, highly unusual because the Hoppers lead the league in fewest walks allowed. To make it worse, all six walks came around to score.

“We didn’t throw enough strikes,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “It’s usually not the hits but the walks ahead of them that hurt you.”

German was the third straight Hoppers starter to been roughed up, following Jarlin Garcia on Sunday and Ryan Newell on Saturday. All have logged substantial innings in their first full season and may be showing signs of fatigue.

“That can become a factor,” Powell said. “You could see German hit the wall real fast tonight. Hopefully we’ll get good outings the next couple of days.”

Cody Crabaugh will start Tuesday’s 7 p.m. game and Sean Townsley will start the 12:30 p.m. game Wednesday.

Greensboro’s offense was fine with 11 hits. Avery Romero picked up three, Chad Wallach had two to increase his league-leading average to .347, Austin Dean extended his hitting streak to 10 games and Yefri Perez had a two-run single.

But the Hoppers couldn’t do anything with Brad Salgado, the second of three Kannapolis pitchers. Drafted by the White Sox as a position player in 2010, Salgado hit just .179 in three seasons and converted to pitching in 2013. He was making only his second appearance with the Intimidators and the 12th of his pitching career.

Salgado entered in the fifth inning, after the Hoppers scored twice to take a 6-5 lead. He struck out Rehiner Cordova to end the inning, then breezed through three more innings, retiring nine of 10 batters, and picked up the third win of his career.

“He kept us off-balance and threw strikes, which we didn’t do,” Berg said.