Rodriguez has big game but Hoppers lose 7-5
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at www.gsohoppers.com….
Sometimes a great game by one player isn’t enough to carry a team.
That’s what happened to the Hoppers Wednesday. Arturo Rodriguez had three hits, including two homers, and drove in three runs but Hickory overcame that to post a 7-5 win over Greensboro.
It was the second of two schoolkids’ days this season, and NewBridge Bank Park was jammed with 7,792 mostly high-decibel voices. They enjoyed themselves immensely, even if it was disappointing for the Hoppers.
Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly to center in the first inning, a solo home run to right-center in the fourth, a double in the gap to left-center in the sixth and a solo home run to left-center in the eighth. He’s now hitting .441, tops in the SAL, with three homers and 13 RBIs.
“He’s an absolute pro,” said manager Kevin Randel. “He has a great approach and never tries to do too much. Hopefully the other guys are watching him.”
Rodriguez is 23 and played three full seasons in the Mexican League before being signed by the Marlins over the winter. He has certainly mastered South Atlantic League pitching.
“He’s seeing the ball good, making adjustments and using the whole field,” said hitting coach Luis Quinones. “And he’s been doing that since Day One. The Mexican League is like Triple-A, with some good pitchers. He has more experience than the majority of our hitters.”
The Hoppers got 12 hits, with catcher Rodrigo Vigil going 3-for-4 with an RBI. The most encouraging game was probably by shortstop Justin Twine. The Marlins’ No. 2 pick last summer, Twine spent two weeks on the disabled list and carried a batting average of .065 into Tuesday’s game. Quinones said he’s “just getting his timing back.”
After a well-hit flyout to right field his first time up, Twine smoked a triple over Hickory’s center fielder his next trip and scored on a groundout by Brian Schales. He flied out his third trip, then doubled down the left field line in the ninth inning and scored on Vigil’s single.
“Just before he hit that triple, he told me ‘the hits are coming,’” Randel said.
The Hoppers’ pitching was forgettable, except for a three-inning stint by Kyle Fischer. Taking over for struggling starter Scott Squier to begin the fourth, Fischer shut down the Crawdads with three scoreless innings.
“He really picked us up and kept us in the game,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell.
The Hoppers sliced a 4-1 deficit to 4-3, but Jose Arias gave up two runs on a two-out single by Josh Morgan in the eighth and Luis Castillo surrendered another run in the ninth.
The teams close their three-game series at 7 p.m. Thursday with Ben Holmes starting for the Hoppers.
“We’ll try to win the series and build on that,” Randel said.
NOTES: Second baseman Mason Davis missed the game after injuring his throwing hand in the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s game. He could miss another game or two … Hickory improved to 14-5, best record in the league, and starter Ariel Jurado moved to 4-0 … The Crawdads had 13 hits, four by Michael De Leon and three by Jose Cardona. Cardona and Tripp Martin hit home runs.