Vigil, Woods help Hoppers bounce back
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at www.gsohoppers.com
The Hoppers picked up the tempo at just the right time Saturday night.
Down 2-0 after the top of the third inning against Delmarva, they got single runs in the third and fourth inning to tie things, then scored four runs in the sixth inning that propelled them to an eventual 8-5 win over the Shorebirds.
“I didn’t like the tempo of the game early,” said manager Kevin Randel. “We came out flat and got a wake-up call.”
The offense came to life in the sixth when it was able to bunch several hits together. K.J. Woods led off with his first homer of the year, a laser shot to right center field. Austen Smith walked and went to third on Justin Twine’s double off the top of the wall in right.
Rodrigo Vigil singled through the drawn-in infield for two runs and John Norwood added a sacrifice fly.
Delmarva cut the lead to 6-5 in the top of the seventh, but the Hoppers added two insurance runs in the eighth.
“K.J. just needs to learn to touch the ball out front and it will jump out of the park,” Randel said.
Vigil had three hits and scored twice. He raised his average to .312 and his RBIs to 15, third on the team behind Arturo Rodriguez (20) and Smith (18).
“He grinds out his at-bats,” Randel said. “That was good situational hitting with two strikes. He’s in a good spot in the order (sixth in this game) because the middle of the lineup is getting on base and he has opportunities to drive in runs.”
The big hit was the two-run single.
“With a runner on third I was looking for something up that I could maybe hit in a gap,” Virgil said. “With two strikes, I had to shorten my swing and look for something comfortable to make good contact.”
Randel also praised the way Vigil called the game from behind the plate. Starter Jorgan Cavanerio went five innings and gave up two runs in his second start since joining the team. Scott Squier gave up three runs, one unearned, but picked up the win. Kyle Fischer retired all six batters he faced, with three strikeouts, to record his first save.
“Fischer really slammed the door,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “His fastball had a lot of life down in the zone. When he pitches like that, he’s as good as anybody.”
It was Squier, recently moved from the rotation to the bullpen, who provided the most crucial inning. In the top of the seventh he gave up a double, a two-run homer, a walk and a single that was also misplayed and cost the Hoppers a run. After four batters, Squier had a runner on second with no one out and had given up three hard hits.
From there he righted himself, getting a groundout, a strikeout and another groundout to strand the tying run at second.
“He bore down and made pitches when he had to,” Powell said. “Those were the biggest outs of the game.”
Vigil said he told Squier to be calm and control what he could control.
“I said ‘you’re leaving the ball up and you’ve got to get it down,’” Vigil said. “Then he threw it down and with control.”
The teams finish the series Sunday at 4 p.m. with each having won twice. Ben Holmes will start for the Hoppers.
NOTES: Norwood had two hits and two RBIs, stole a base and threw out a runner at third base from right field … Woods added a double to his homer and scored twice … Brian Schales also had two hits, including a double … The Hoppers were much more efficient on offense. One night after managing four runs on 14 hits, they scored eight on 11 hits.