Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers fall short against Rome, 4-2

Hoppers fall short against Rome, 4-2
Courtesy of Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

Sometimes a storybook ending doesn’t work out.

The opportunity was there for Arturo Rodriguez to write one Thursday night. In his first game back with the Hoppers, he came up in the bottom of the ninth with two men on base, two outs and his team down by two runs to Rome. A home run would have won the game.

But Rodriguez, who had a pair of singles in four at-bats, couldn’t deliver. He hit a routine fly ball to right field to end the game, preserving a 4-2 win for the Braves.

“We all know what he was trying to do,” said manager Kevin Randel, referring to the home run scenario. “The adrenaline was pumping and he wound up with that popup. The best thing would have been just to keep (the rally) going.”

It was only the fifth loss in the last 24 games for the Hoppers, and in some ways it was surprising they had a chance to win because they didn’t play well. They were shut out until the ninth inning, when one run scored after left fielder Leudys Baez dropped Zach Sullivan’s line drive with two outs. Angel Reyes followed with an RBI single before Rodriguez ended it.

The Hoppers had 11 hits, all singles, but the first 10 didn’t produce any runs. The team had 17 singles (and one double) in Wednesday’s 14-inning win over Hickory, so Randel is looking for some extra base pop. Rome, in contrast, had three doubles and a homer.

Starter Jordan Holloway did not have his best stuff, giving up three runs on four hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings. Jeff Kinley gave up a run in 2 1/3 innings and Ben Meyer pitched two shutout innings to finish.

“He couldn’t find the zone,” Randel said of the 20-year-old Holloway. “He had no feel for his secondary stuff. He’s going to have those outings.”

Anfernee Seymour had four hits and a run scored to lead the offense. He was thrown out trying to steal second base in the third inning with no outs and Joseph Chavez on third base. Chavez was stranded there when Braves pitcher Patrick Weigel struck out the next two batters. Randel took the blame for the outcome.

“(Seymour has) been running on his own all year,” Randel said, “and the first time I give him the steal sign he’s thrown out. I still thought he was going to make it.”

In the fifth inning, Chavez singled and Seymour laid down a nice bunt. Rome’s third baseman fielded it but Seymour beat the throw, which bounced off the first baseman’s glove. Second baseman Luke Dykstra picked it up and threw out Chavez trying to reach third.

“It was a reactionary play (by Chavez),” Randel said. “He saw the ball get away, but the second baseman got to it quickly.”

Rodriguez had a fine season in Greensboro last year, hitting .275 with 19 homers and 69 RBIs. But he wasn’t doing much in Jupiter this year, hitting .239 with no homers and four RBIs in 21 games. A catcher by trade, he played first base Thursday.

NOTES: Cody Poteet will start Friday’s game for the Hoppers … Dykstra, the son of former major leaguer Lenny Dykstra, had a pair of doubles and an RBI for Rome … The Braves came to town with a 23-35 record … The Hoppers, who have won seven straight series, are now 31-29.