Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers fall in extra innings again

Hoppers fall in extra innings again
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

Sometimes just battling hard doesn’t turn out to be enough.

The Hoppers came from behind twice to tie the game against Greenville Wednesday but couldn’t do it a third time and wound up with a 7-5 loss in 10 innings. It was their second extra-innings loss to the Drive in three days (7-6 Monday).

“We kept fighting and battling and surviving,” said manager Kevin Randel. “We just didn’t survive long enough.”

The Drive put the Hoppers in a quick hole with a three-run first inning that included a home run, a double and a two run homer by consecutive batters Then starter Jorgan Cavanerio regrouped, retiring 13 in a row at one point, and allowed only one run in the next six innings.

“He got behind in the count on all three hitters and elevated his fastball,” said pitching coach Jeremy Powell. “Then he settled in and really used his stuff well.”

The Hoppers got back-to-back homers from John Norwood and Justin Twine in the fourth to close the gap to 3-2. Greenville added a run but the Hoppers scored twice in the fifth, including an RBI single from Arturo Rodriguez, to tie the game 4-4.

Ryan Hafner was tagged for a run in the eighth but Rodriguez drilled his 16th homer, and sixth in his last 10 games, in the bottom of the inning to tie it again.

The Drive put two runs on the board in the top of the 10th that the Hoppers couldn’t answer. One of them came on Andrew Benintendi’s second homer of the game. Jose Diaz, the 32nd different pitcher to wear a Hoppers uniform this season, gave up the runs and took the loss.

Greensboro had some chances to snatch the win. With two men on and one out in the eighth, Felix Castillo hit into an inning-ending double play. In the ninth, Zach Sullivan led off with a walk and moved to second on Rony Cabrera’s sacrfice. But Brian Schales fouled out and, after K.J. Woods drew an intentional walk, Rodriguez flied out deep to center field.

“We had some opportunities but we couldn’t get the big hit,” Randel said.

Two high-profile Greenville players had big games. Benintendi, drafted out of Arkansas by the Red Sox as the seventh overall pick in the first round this June, was playing in his second game with Greenville. He slugged nine homers in 35 games at Lowell in the New York-Penn League. He had a two-run homer off Cavanerio in the first to go with his homer in the 10th.

Yoan Moncada, the Drive’s 20-year-old second baseman, had a single, double, an RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases (giving him 39 for the season). He left his native Cuba, with the government’s permission, in 2014 to pursue his baseball career. The Red Sox won the bidding war, signing Moncada for $31.5 million. Because that sum exceeded Boston’s international pool money, it had to pay another $31.5 to Major League Baseball, meaning the Red Sox have $63 million invested in him.

NOTES: Norwood’s homer was his 13th and Twine’s was his fifth … Twine had three hits and is 13-for-37 over his last nine games with five multi-hit games … Rodriguez leads the team with 56 RBIs … The Hoppers begin a four-game series with Hickory Thursday night at NewBridge Bank Park … Gabriel Castellanos will start for the Hoppers … The Crawdads won the Northern Division’s first half pennant to qualify for the playoffs.