Bill Hass on Baseball:BlueClaws slip past Hoppers again BlueClaws slip past Hoppers again
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at…. The Hoppers just keep missing the brass ring from the merry-go-round.

The chance to grab it was there Monday, but they missed and lost in extra innings to Lakewood. It was there again Tuesday, particularly in the ninth inning, but they missed again and suffered a 2-1 loss, their fifth straight defeat.

“We just didn’t get it done,” said manager Kevin Randel. “I don’t want to put it all on the ninth inning. We had eight other innings to get something done.”

Trouble was, aside from Justin Twine’s line drive homer in the bottom of the fifth, the Hoppers couldn’t get anything done. They were kept at bay by Lakewood starter Ranfi Casimiro for six innings, then by a different pitcher in each of the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, something that’s common in the major leagues but unusual for this level of the minors.

Greensboro made it interesting in the ninth against BlueClaws closer Matt Hockenberry. Mason Davis led off with a double but had to hold there when Rony Cabrera’s bunt was pounced on by catcher Joel Fisher, who threw Cabrera out.

The BlueClaws employed an extreme shift against left-handed K.J. Woods, moving three infielders to the right side of second base with the second baseman playing short right field. But they weren’t going to give Woods anything to hit and he drew a walk.

After Brian Schales took a called third strike for the second out, Arturo Rodriguez walked to load the bases, bringing Twine to the plate. He swung at the first pitch and hit it off the handle, a soft fly to center field to end the game to give Hockenberry his 12th save.

The Hoppers pitching was good enough to win a lot of games. Jorgan Cavanerio, who had won his previous three starts, went seven innings and allowed six hits and two runs, taking a tough loss. Damek Tomscha doubled in a run in the fourth and in the seventh, with a runner on third and two outs, Chase Harris caught the Hoppers defense playing back and bunted beautifully down the third base line for a single that scored a run.

“(Cavanerio) kept them guessing,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “He got some early contact and early outs and kept the ball in and around the zone.”

Nick Fuller, after a couple of shaky outings, pitched two perfect innings of relief.

“He’s been scuffling, so it’s good to see him get in some quality work,” Powell said.

NOTES: The teams play at 12:30 Wednesday with Enderson Franco starting for the Hoppers … Greensboro managed only four hits, two each by Twine and Davis while everyone else went 0-for-22 … Twine’s homer was his fourth of the season … Schales had his 11-game hitting streak snapped.