Lakewood pounds Hoppers early
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at www.gsohoppers.com
Tuesday night’s game wasn’t over before it started, but it was over shortly after it started.
Reeling from six straight losses, the Hoppers needed a strong effort from their starting pitcher to stem the bleeding and keep them in a close game. Instead, Enderson Franco was torched for five runs by Lakewood in the top of the first inning. It went single, single, sacrifice, walk, two-run single, flyout, two-run double, single, wild pitch to score a run and finally a flyout to end it.
Five runs, five hits (every one hit hard), one walk, one wild pitch. Essentially, game over. The final count was 9-0.
Franco started the top of the third by giving up a single, a homer, a triple and an RBI single before finally getting an out. After issuing a walk, he was pulled by manager Kevin Randel. His line: 2 1-3 innings, 10 hits and eight runs.
That left a lot of innings for the bullpen to cover. To their credit, Leurys De La Rosa, Ryan Hafner and Jeff Kinley combined for 6 2-3 innings and surrendered only one run.
“The bullpen did a great job finishing the game,” Randel said.
That was the extent of the highlights for the Hoppers, who were held by six hits by a pair of Lakewood pitchers. Austen Smith had two of those.
The BlueClaws pounded out 16 hits, giving them 44 in the last three games. Drew Stankiewicz had three of them and he’s 10-for-15 over that span. Cord Sandeberg had three more, including a double and homer worth four RBIs.
The teams wrap up their five-game series in NewBridge Bank Park at 4 p.m. today. With Tyler Kolek shut down by the Marlins for the remainder of the season, Kelvin Rivas will get the spot start as the Hopper try to prevent a sweep.
It’s the last home game of the season for the Hoppers and the final game for the retiring batdog Miss Babe Ruth, whose consecutive games streak will end at 649.
NOTES: Zach Morris, from the University of Maryland, earned a three-inning save in relief of Lakewood starter Jairo Munoz … Lakewood is 17-7 against the Hoppers this season and 53-55 against the rest of the league.