Bill Hass on Baseball:West Virginia bests Hoppers again

West Virginia bests Hoppers again
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

There wasn’t anything wrong with the way the Hoppers played Wednesday night — West Virginia just played a little bit better.

As a result, the Power came away with a 3-2 win to open a five-game series in NewBridge Bank Park.

“I thought we played great,” said manager Kevin Randel. “But we didn’t make the exceptional play. We just got beat, and you can live with those.”

The bright spot was another well-pitched game by a starting pitcher. After Ben Holmes threw seven shutout innings against Hickory Tuesday, newcomer Enderson Franco allowed only three hits and one run in six innings Thursday.

The right-hander, just acquired by the Marlins from Tampa Bay’s system, gave the Hoppers pretty much what they expected — a lot of strikes. He threw 54 strikes in 79 pitches, mixing a fastball that hit 94 with some breaking pitches and changeups.

“He showed the ability to get people out,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “He looked like an older guy, the way he went about it. He threw strikes and gave us a chance.”

Franco, from Venezuela, started his pro career at age 17 and spent four seasons at the Rookie League level and another with Hudson Valley in the New York-Penn League. Now 22, he moved to the full-season Midwest League this year and was 5-6 in 13 starts with Bowling Green.

The Power nicked him for a run in the second inning on a single, a fielder’s choice, a balk and an RBI single. Franco gave up just one other hit and retired the side in order four times.

West Virginia added a run off Sam Alvis in the seventh and the winning run off Cody Harris, who took the loss, in the ninth. With two outs, Chase Simpson doubled into the left field corner and Taylor Gushue singled him in.

Meanwhile, the Hoppers couldn’t do much against Power starter Alex McRae. They manufactured a run in the third inning on two infield hits, a hit batter, a sacrifice and John Norwood’s sacrifice fly. In the seventh, against reliever Julio Vivas, Norwood ripped his ninth homer of the season to tie the game 2-2.

Taylor Munden followed the homer with a two-out walk and Arturo Rodriguez lifted a long fly to left field that the Power’s Jerrick Suiter reached over the fence to catch and save a two-run homer.

It was the second outstanding defensive play by the Power in the game. In the second inning, K.J. Woods was robbed of an extra-base hit when hit drive to center field was hauled against the fence by Elvis Escobar.

NOTES: Norwood, batting leadoff, had two hits and both RBIs … West Virginia is 9-4 against the Hoppers this season and has beaten them seven straight games … Tyler Kolek will start for the Hoppers in Thursday’s 7 p.m. game against the Power.