Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers post shutout sweep, get two players back

“I’m excited to be back for the playoff run,” Chad Wallach said. “It’s good to see all the guys again. This is going to be a blast.”

Hoppers post shutout sweep, get two players back
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

Chad Wallach sported a bright red cut on his right cheek following the second game of the Hoppers’ doubleheader sweep of Lakewood Tuesday night.

Welcome back to Greensboro, Chad.

Wallach and second baseman Avery Romero were among several players having outstanding seasons in Greensboro who were promoted to Jupiter after the SAL All-Star game. On Tuesday, the Miami Marlins returned the pair to the Hoppers’ roster.

It was not that they weren’t doing well in Jupiter — Wallach hit .328 with eight RBIs in 12 games and Romero hit .320 with 10 RBIs in 26 games. But the Hammerheads aren’t going anywhere in the Florida State League and the Hoppers will be in the SAL playoffs. Those two played a big role in them winning the first half of the Northern Division and neither was disappointed to return.

“I’m excited to be back for the playoff run,” Wallach said. “It’s good to see all the guys again. This is going to be a blast.”

Romero had an identical reaction.

“It was fun playing in Jupiter,” he said, “but I’m excited for the chance to play for a championship. (The Marlins) asked us if we would mind coming back and we both said we would be glad to. I love this group of guys.”

Romero got right into the action, playing second base in both games. He had a hit and a pair of RBIs — one on a bases-loaded walk — in the first game, a 7-0 win. In the second game, his grounder in the first inning was booted for an error by Lakewood’s third baseman and Rehiner Cordova scored what turned out to be the only run in the 1-0 victory.

Wallach caught the second game and was involved in the defensive play that preserved the win. In the top of the seventh inning, with a runner on first and one out, Lakewood’s Malquin Canelo laced a line drive to the wall in left-center field. Coco Johnson hustled over to pick it up and fired his relay throw to shortstop J.T. Riddle.

As runner Drew Stankiewicz was waved around third, Riddle, standing well out in left field, pegged his throw home. Wallach caught it on the right side of the plate, then dived to his left and tagged Stankiewicz for the out. That’s when the runner’s foot apparently caught him on the cheek, under the eye.

“It was a great relay, the kind of thing we practice all the time,” Wallach said. “I didn’t feel anything, so I’m not sure what happened (to cause the cut).”

That was the second out and Canelo wound up on third base with the throw home. Miguel del Pozo then retired Carlos Tocci for the final out to earn his fourth save.

“The outfielder (Johnson) wasn’t playing deep enough,” said manager David Berg, “but he got the ball to Riddle. He made a helluva throw and Wallach made a helluva play. Riddle can really play shortstop. He’s got good arm strength and he didn’t panic.”

It was the second time in a week that the Hoppers swept a doubleheader with two shutouts. They also did it on the road on Aug. 4 at Delmarva, winning twice by 2-0.

“It’s great to see good outings day in and day out,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “We went through a stretch there were we weren’t throwing well. Now they’re feeding off each other and pitching with confidence.”

Powell liked Chris Sadberry’s “sneaky fastball” and the way he challenged hitters in the second game as the lefty picked up his second victory. In the opener, Domingo German pitched four innings, allowing two hits and two walks, then gave way to Cody Crabaugh, who threw two innings and got the win. Newcomer Tyler Bremer pitched the seventh.

“We’re watching German’s innings closely, looking out for the benefit of his career,” Powell explained. “He seems to understand, but mentally it’s not easy going out there with no chance to win the game.”

The Hoppers banged out 12 hits in the opener with Carlos Lopez hitting a three-run homer and adding a fourth RBI on a sacrifice fly. Riddle had a pair of doubles and scored twice, and Felix Munoz and Yefri Perez each had two hits.

ROSTER MOVES: Since the last home stand, the Hoppers have added three players in addition to the return of Wallach and Romero. Bremer and Jose Arias were both obtained by the Marlins in a deal with the Chicago Cubs. Arias has pitched once, picking up a save by striking out all six batters he faced in two innings at Hickory. Also new is catcher Chris Hoo, called up from Batavia. Gone from the roster are pitcher Ramon del Orbe and catcher Brad Haynal to Batavia, and infielder Juan Avila and pitchers Sam Alvis and C.J. Robinson to Jupiter.