Bill Hass on Baseball:Greenville limits Hoppers to two hits

Greenville limits Hoppers to two hits
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball at

It was one of those nights where the statistics didn’t matter.

Greenville left-hander Logan Boyd had taken some lumps this season — a 5.52 ERA and 121 hits surrendered in 88 innings coming into Thursday night’s game against the Hoppers. But he was in command from the beginning, pitching seven strong innings as the Drive beat Greensboro 2-0 at NewBridge Bank Park.

Boyd gave up just one hit and two walks while striking out eight. The Hoppers were never able to solve him and were retired in order four times.

“He lived on the corners and just off the plate,” said Hoppers manager Kevin Randel. “He expanded the (strike) zone and we chased pitches all night and couldn’t adjust.”

There were really only two threats by the Hoppers. With one out in the seventh inning, Angel Reyes walked and Josh Naylor was safe on an error. John Silviano ripped a line drive to right field that was caught with a high stretch by Kyri Washington for the second out. Naylor failed to watch the ball as he ran to second base and, after it was caught, was easily doubled off to end the inning.

“Four inches higher and it would have been over (the outfielder’s) head,” Randel said.

With one out in the ninth, Anferee Seymour was safe on a bunt, only the Hoppers’ second hit, and Kyle Barrett walked. That put the tying runs on base and brought the winning run to the plate, with the team’s top two RBI hitters coming up against reliever Jake Cosart. But Reyes struck out and Naylor fouled out to the catcher to end the game.

“We got some runners on base in the ninth and gave ourselves a fighting chance,” Randel said. “We needed more baserunners earlier in the game.”

One night after the staff gave up 11 walks in an 8-3 win, the Hoppers pitched much better. Starter Ben Meyer and relievers Joel Effertz and Jeff Kinley combined for just one walk. Meyer also hit a batter, which proved costly because it came with two outs and a runner on in the first inning. Washington then singled to drive in Greenville’s first run.

The other run came in the sixth off Effertz. With runners on first and third and no outs, the Hoppers turned a double play as a runner scored.

“We got back to doing what we do best, making good pitches and not trying to be too fine,” said pitching coach Brendan Sagara. “All three of them challenged the strike zone.”

Effertz was making his first appearance in Greensboro since 2014. He pitched in seven games in relief with a 2.38 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. He went to Double-A Jacksonville for one game, pitched two scoreless innings and hurt his elbow. That resulted in Tommy John surgery and Effertz missed all of 2015. He pitched in five games in the Gulf Coast League before joining the Hoppers and winning a game in relief on the road.

“That process (of rehabbing) will test your will,” Sagara said. “Physically, he’s back to normal and now it’s a matter of getting his work in and building him back up. It will take a little while, but he’s a hard worker.”

The rubber game of the series will be played Friday night with Cody Poteet starting for the Hoppers.