Bill Hass on Baseball:Farnworth, Twine spark Hoppers victory

Farnworth, Twine spark Hoppers victory
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

It’s a long bus ride from Greensboro to Delmarva, but the Hoppers put themselves in a good mood for it Sunday afternoon.

One day after a frustrating loss to Hickory, Greensboro bounced back and whipped the Crawdads 6-1 in NewBridge Bank Park. They did it with excellent pitching, holding Hickory to just two hits, while pounding out a number of timely hits of their own.

Starter Steven Farnworth set the tone when he retired the first nine batters. He gave up a home run to Eric Jenkins to start the fourth inning, then regrouped and stopped the Crawdads again, setting down the last seven batters in a row. Besides the homer, he allowed only one baserunner in his six innings when he hit a batter. He picked up his first win since May 21.

“I kept my fastball down in the zone,” he said, “and they didn’t prove they could drive it so why would I go away from it. I’m a contact pitcher. I let (the other team) put the ball in play and let the defense work.

“I don’t remember my last win (it came against Hagerstown). I’m getting back in the groove. Once things start rolling, it gets to be fun.”

Farnworth began the season as the Hoppers’ closer, recording three saves, before being switched to starting, something he did in college. He had his ups and downs but was sharp his previous two outings when he pitched 10 innings and allowed nine hits and two earned runs but got no decision in either game. He rectified that Sunday for his second win of the season.

“He didn’t give them a whole lot to hit,” said pitching coach Brendan Sagara. “There weren’t many pitches down the middle.”

The bullpen, as usual, followed suit. Kyle Keller allowed one hit and no runs in two innings and Jose Quizada struck out the side in the ninth. Crawdad hitter Frandy de la Rosa was so frustrated when he struck out swinging that he broke his bat when he pounded it on the ground on the way to the dugout.

Hickory right-hander Erik Swanson, who had beaten the Hoppers in April, was just as effective as Farnworth for three innings. But Greensboro’s offense got to him in the fourth.

Josh Naylor doubled and scored on a double by Angel Reyes. Isael Soto beat out an infield hit and Justin Twine unloaded a three-run homer to left field. Suddenly the game had turned around and the Hoppers had a 4-1 lead. Twine saw something when he watched the previous hitters.

“I noticed that (Swanson) was elevating his pitches a little,” Twine said, “and I got a fastball up in the zone. I put the barrel of the bat on it and watched it fly. When you’re not a home run hitter (it was his second of the season), it feels good to hit one.”

The Hoppers tacked on some add-on runs later when Reyes unloaded a long solo homer and Isael Soto drove in another with a single. Reyes and Soto each finished with three hits.

No one left the Hoppers locker room feeling good Saturday night after a 10-inning loss to the Crawdads in a game they all felt they should have won.

“You try to flush the bad loss away and go on to the next game,” Farnworth said.

The win enabled the Hoppers to take the series 3-1. In their last 11 series, the Hoppers have won 10 and split one. They’re now 3-1 to start the second half, 10-3 in their last 13 games and 29-9 in their last 38.

The team began the long ride to Delmarva Sunday evening. They will play three games there followed by four in Lakewood before returning home July 4 against West Virginia.

Manager Kevin Randel said Delmarva, which completed a series in Kannapolis, had an even longer ride home.

“So there are no excuses (about travel),” he said. “We should just keep playing good ball.”