Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers drop 2-1 decision in pitchers’ duel

Hoppers drop 2-1 decision in pitchers’ duel
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at….

Sometimes the more you see a pitcher the more success you have against him.

But that wasn’t the case for the Hoppers Saturday night. Right-hander Ricardo Pinto, starting for the fourth time against Greensboro this season, out-dueled Hoppers starter Drew Steckenrider in a 2-1 Lakewood victory. It was Pinto’s fifth win of the year and his third over the Hoppers.

Pinto threw seven strong innings, allowing one run on seven hits and one walk while striking out seven. Alexis Rivero pitched the final two innings and didn’t allow a hit, earning his second save.

Steckenrider was nearly as good for the Hoppers, giving up two runs on five hits in six innings. He surrendered a run in the first on a pair of doubles, then shut out the Claws over the next four innings. Malquin Canelo tagged him for a homer in the top of the sixth, which ultimately proved to be the winning run.

“He threw the ball well,” pitching coach Jeremy Powell said of Steckenrider. “The home run came on a 1-and-0 count and he left a fastball over the middle of the plate. He’s thrown well his last two outings.”

So locked in were the two pitchers that neither allowed a baserunner from the third through the fifth innings — three up and three down for 18 hitters. Greensboro had some hard-hit balls off Pinto, but most of them were right at fielders.

The Hoppers broke through in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Brian Schales, but that was it. They wasted a chance in the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and third and one out, but Rony Cabrera and John Norwood both struck out.

Manager Kevin Randel said he took away two things from the game.

“We let too many fastballs go by early in the count,” he said. “And we didn’t score runners from third with less than two out. That’s been our M.O. all year.”

Still, the one-run loss wasn’t especially bitter.

“You know games like this are going to happen,” Randel said. “It wasn’t a bad night. I liked the effort and the pitching was solid. A bad night was 10-2 the other day (Thursday)”

The teams will play for the 14th time in the first half of the season today, wrapping up the four-game series with a game at 4 p.m. Tyler Kolek will start for Greensboro.

NOTES: James Buckelew pitched three shutout innings in relief of Steckenrider … Rodrigo Vigil and Zach Sullivan each had two hits for the Hoppers, who managed only seven.