Bill Hass on Baseball:Hickory pitching shuts down Hoppers 3-1

Hickory pitching shuts down Hoppers 3-1
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

There was no mystery to Friday’s game at NewBridge Bank Park.

Hickory pitched a little better, hit a little better and came away with a 3-1 win over the Hoppers, evening the series at one game apiece.

The Hoppers were held to four hits by a trio of Crawdad pitchers, who combined for 10 strikeouts and just one walk. Starting the game was Dillon Tate, the Texas Rangers’ first-round pick (fourth overall) in the June draft. Selected out of UC Santa Barbara, Tate signed for $4.2 million.

The Rangers are being extremely careful with Tate. The right-hander pitched in two games with their farm team in Spokane, going an inning in each one. He joined Hickory and pitched an inning in his first game, then went two innings against the Hoppers, retiring all six batters with his old-school, high leg kick delivery. He has started each of the four games so he can stick to his pre-game routine.

Left-hander Brett Martin took over for the Crawdads in the third inning and throttled the Hoppers with four hits and one run, striking out eight, over the next six innings to pick up the win. The Hoppers haven’t solved Martin this season. In two appearances against them he has thrown 13 innings, allowing nine hits and three runs while fanning 13.

Greensboro’s lone run came in the fourth inning when Brian Schales doubled and scored on a single by Arturo Rodriguez. But Martin slammed the door after that. Scott Williams earned his eighth save for Hickory with a one-two-three ninth that included two strikeouts. In the last four innings, Mason Davis was the only Hoppers baserunner, reaching on a walk.

“It was a quiet night,” said manager and third base coach Kevin Randel.

The Hoppers got a solid starting effort from Enderson Franco, who allowed one unearned run in six innings. And Franco had no one to blame but himself for that run. In the fourth inning, Hickory’s Luke Tendler (N.C. A&T) grounded to first baseman K.J. Woods. Franco ran over to take the flip from Woods but dropped the ball. Tendler reached second on the play and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly.

“His fastball was erratic so he used his off-speed stuff,” pitching coach Jeremy Powell said of Franco’s work.

Reliever Jeff Kinley, who had pitched eight scoreless innings in three previous games for Greensboro, retired the side in order in the seventh. But he was touched for a leadoff double in the eighth that led to a sacrifice fly, and in the ninth Jairo Beras belted a home run. Kinley wound up with the loss.

NOTES: John Norwood stole his 31st base for Greensboro, putting him in seventh place on the all-time Hoppers list … Woods struck out three times for the third time in the last five games … The teams play Saturday at 7 p.m. with Tyler Kolek starting for the Hoppers.