Hoppers chill Power behind Mader, Castillo
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at www.gsohoppers.com…
It’s not the easiest thing for a baseball team to endure a 55-minute delay to start a game.
And then it’s not easy to go out and play in 51-degree weather.
The Hoppers managed to push those inconveniences aside Friday night and open a four-game series against the West Virginia Power with a 3-2 win at NewBridge Bank Park.
“Nobody wants to be out there, so it’s who wants it more,” said manager Kevin Randel. “It’s hard to keep the kids ready to play. Seven o’clock comes and they’re supposed to be playing. When there’s a delay they don’t know what to do.”
Starting pitcher Michael Mader came back inside the clubhouse, listened to some music and when the call came to get ready he went outside to stretch and warm up. He didn’t notice the 51 on the temperature sign in center field, a figure he didn’t often see growing up in Marianna, FL.
“I think the coldest weather I’ve pitched in was probably the season opener at Delmarva, when it was 44,” he said. “Tonight it never got cold enough that I couldn’t feel my hands.”
Mader has been tagged with the nickname “Rain Man’ because four of his starts have been delayed by rain and another was postponed a day. He shook things off Friday and delivered five scoreless innings to earn his second victory. It was his third straight strong start and he now has pitched 15 straight shutout innings.
“I’m starting to get consistent command of my fastball from the stretch,” he said. “That was a point of emphasis after the second game of the year.”
The Hoppers gave Mader some runs to work with early, getting RBIs from K.J. Woods, Austen Smith and Justin Twine for a 3-0 lead after two innings. The Power closed the gap with a run off Tyler Kane and another off James Buckelew to shave the lead to one.
Luis Castillo preserved the win with a strong ninth inning. He struck out the first hitter on a 95-mph fastball, got the next to ground out, gave up a walk and then fanned the last hitter with a 79-mph slider. It was his second save of the season.
“That’s the best I’ve seen him as far as repeating his delivery,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “He had better body control tonight. He has three plus pitches and we want to get him some quality innings.”
The four pitchers gave up eight hits and walked six batters but pitched well with men on base, stranding 11 Power runners. None of the walks came around to score.
Left fielder Zach Sullivan made the defensive play of the night for the Hoppers, nailing a runner at home in the fourth inning with a low, one-hop throw to catcher Arturo Rodriguez.
The Hoppers got 10 hits, including three by Woods for the second straight night. He’s 9-for-15 in the four games since he came off the disabled list. He said his wrist, which he jammed sliding into a base in a game at Lakewood, now feels fine.
Two of his hits, a single and double, went to left field, a good sign for the left-handed hitter.
“I would love to get something up and in,” Woods said, “but they keep pitching me away so I’ll keep taking them to left field.”
Jose Adames will start Saturday night’s game for Greensboro.