Twine sets the table for Hoppers’ win over Power
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at www.gsohoppers.com….
Whether success breeds confidence or confidence breeds success, Justin Twine has plenty of both these days.
The young shortstop had his best offensive game of the season Monday night, going 4-for-4 and scoring three runs to propel the Hoppers to a 7-3 win over West Virginia. The victory enabled Greensboro to win the series 3-1 from the Power and finish 4-3 on the home stand.
Twine missed two weeks with a hamstring injury and went hitless in his first 11 at-bats when he came off the disabled list. Since then he has gone 11-for-24 to raise his average from .065 to .236. He has four multi-hit games in his last six outings.
“I feel more relaxed and more confident,” said Twine, the Marlins’ No. 2 pick in last summer’s draft. “I’m staying more loose. I have a tendency to get tight and come off the ball.”
Manager Kevin Randel has inserted Twine mostly in the second spot in the batting order.
“We’ve struggled with consistency there,” Randel said. “It’s a spot where you see more fastballs. He’s a real aggressive hitter and got the bat head out on four at-bats tonight.”
Just as important as the hits were the three runs Twine scored. He singled and scored in the first, doubled and scored in the third, singled and scored in the fourth and singled in the sixth.
“It’s a good feeling to get on base and have my teammates drive me in,” he said. “They have confidence in me.”
Hitting coach Luis Quinones said Twine has gotten his timing back after being rusty from the DL.
“He’s swinging at his pitches, not the pitcher’s pitch,” Quinones said. “We told him ‘just be you, don’t try to do more than you’re capable.’ He’s been more disciplined.”
Arturo Rodriguez had two hits and two RBIs and K.J. Woods, John Norwood, Rodrigo Vigil and Brian Schales added RBIs.
The important thing for the Hoppers’ offense was the way it answered the Power. West Virginia scored in the top of the first and Greensboro got two in the bottom of the inning. When the Power scored a run in the third, the Hoppers came back with four. That made the lead 6-2 and essentially settled the contest.
But things might have taken a different turn early. Starter Scott Squier found himself in a mess to start the game, giving up a walk, a bunt single and an RBI single to the first three batters. After he got an out, an error by third baseman Schales loaded the bases.
A big inning was looming, but Squier coaxed Chase Simpson to fly out to shallow right field, with the runners holding. Elvis Escobar struck out swinging to end the threat.
“He hung in there and made enough pitches to get out of it,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “He mixed things up, got some spin on the ball and got them to swing at some balls out of the zone.”
Squier made it through five innings, giving up three runs, and earned his first win of the year, preserved by four shutout innings from the bullpen. Tyler Kane pitched two innings and gave up two hits and Luis Castillo pitched the last two and retired all six batters he faced.
Now 12-12 overall, the Hoppers will enjoy a day off Tuesday, then head out on the road for three games at Hickory and four at Rome. They’re 3-8 on the road, with seven of those games at Delmarva and the other four at Lakewood. Just seeing somebody different might help.
“We know Hickory’s a good team (16-9 record) and we don’t know much about Rome,” Randel said. “It will be good to see what we’ve got.”
NOTES: Second baseman Mason Davis (hand) should be activated off the disabled list for Wednesday’s game at Hickory … The biggest challenge for the pitching staff on the road is to cut down on its walks. The Hoppers walked 19 Power batters in the four-game series.