Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers win home finale behind Munoz, Garcia

“My goals this season were to hit .300 and drive in 100 runs,” Felix Munoz said with teammate Yefri Perez translating. “If I don’t make it, it’s all right. I try to do my best all the time.”

Hoppers win home finale behind Munoz, Garcia
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at….

Consistency, an elusive element for many hitters, has not been a problem for Felix Munoz.

Greensboro’s first baseman continued his excellent season Thursday night, driving in two runs in the first innings to propel the Hoppers to a 6-1 win over Delmarva. It was the club’s final home game of the regular season and a crowd of 8,338 turned out.

The Hoppers play out the remainder of the schedule with four games in Kannapolis, then begin the playoffs on Sept. 3 at Hagerstown. The Suns officially clinched the other playoff spot in the Northern Division when Hickory was eliminated with a loss to Lakewood.

The Hoppers will return to NewBridge Bank Park for the second game of the best-of-three series on Friday, Sept. 5, and again on Saturday if a third game is needed.

In the home finale, the Hoppers jumped on the Shorebirds for five runs in the first inning and cruised from there. Munoz had the big blow with a base-loaded double that drove in two runs.

“My goals this season were to hit .300 and drive in 100 runs,” Munoz said with teammate Yefri Perez translating. “If I don’t make it, it’s all right. I try to do my best all the time.”

His best has been outstanding. Munoz has 91 RBIs, so he may miss that goal of 100 since only four games are left and he may get a day off. His total is third-best in the South Atlantic League.

The left-handed hitter also ranks high in numerous other categories, including seventh with 31 doubles, seventh with 79 runs scored, tied for fifth with 144 hits, fourth with 229 total bases and tied for seventh with 56 walks. He’s batting .298 overall and hitting left-handers at a .310 clip.

“He’s had a hell of a year,” said manager David Berg. “He’s been out there every day and has given us a big bat in the middle of the lineup. To drive in as many runs as he has (in 123 games played) shows consistency.”

Mason Davis, playing in his third game with the Hoppers, had a single and double, drove in a run and scored one. He also made a couple of nice catches in center field, showing his speed by running down the ball in the gaps.

“I was excited to be called up (from Batavia),” Davis said. “This is a great atmosphere and a fun group of guys. I just want to play my game and help the team by getting on base, getting bunts down and playing good defense.”

Jarlin Garcia picked up his 10th win of the season. He was only scheduled to go four innings, but pitching coach Jeremy Powell made the call to let him go out for the fifth.

“He deserved it,” Powell said. “He’s been pitching with more confidence lately, getting ahead in the count and keeping his fastball down in the zone. He’s been on a roll and this is a nice strong finish for an up-and-down year. I thought it was fitting for him, in the last home game, to have a chance to win.”

In his last four appearances, Garcia has pitched 18 innings, allowed 10 hits, no earned runs and notched 17 strikeouts while walking only three.

The bullpen was solid once again as Jose Arias, Esmerling de la Rosa and Tyler Bremer combined for four innings and gave up two hits and no runs with six strikeouts. Arias struck out the side in the seventh inning.

The win was the Hoppers’ 40th of the second half and 84th of the season. That ties them with the 1960 Greensboro Yankees for the fifth-best record since 1950. One win in Kannapolis will tie them for fourth and two wins would put them in third place on the all-time list.

NOTES: Reliever Sean Donatello, who recorded 11 saves before being promoted to Jupiter, returned to the team. He had six saves with the Hammerheads … It’s likely that Sean Townsley’s season is over. The big lefty from High Point University is still bothered by shoulder trouble … Domingo German will start Friday’s game at Kannapolis in his final tuneup before pitching the playoff opener at Hagerstown.