Hoppers drop second straight to Jackets
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at www.gsohoppers.com
One hundred games down, 40 to go.
And Hoppers manager Kevin Randel hopes he doesn’t see many more like the one Monday night, when his club fell to Augusta 5-1.
It’s the dog days of baseball — temperatures in the 90s, high humidity and more games played than most of the roster has ever gone through.
But Randel was having none of that after a lethargic effort.
“Those are physical things,” he said. “For me, it’s mental. We played well for awhile, then stopped working and focusing. We were just going through the motions tonight, just going out there and expecting to win.”
It was a clunker in all phases. The offense managed only four hits, with three coming in one inning. The Hoppers didn’t get a hit after Anfernee Seymour’s single in the fifth. Gio Alfonzo accounted for the only run with a leadoff homer in the third inning.
Greenjackets starter Michael Connolly, who is 24 and has been in the Giants’ farm system since 2013, used just 91 pitches in his eight innings.
“He took advantage of young hitters who don’t know the strike zone,” Randel said.
Defensively, the Hoppers made four errors, two each by first baseman Josh Naylor and catcher John Silviano. Augusta also had a big night on the bases, stealing four in four attempts. As for the mental side, after Seymour singled he was picked off first base by catcher Matt Winn.
Greensboro’s pitching wasn’t bad. Justin Jacome threw five innings, giving up two runs and keeping the Hoppers in the game. Ryley MacEachern pitched two shutout innings and Jose Quijada had another. But Kyle Keller was tagged for three runs in the sixth inning and those put the game out of reach.
Keller, whose ERA was 1.23 after he pitched on July 4, has been hit hard in his last five outings. He has surrendered 10 runs (eight earned) in just 4 1/3 innings, driving his ERA to 3.76.
“It’s the ups and downs of a season,” said pitching coach Brendan Sagara. “When things go bad, every hit finds a hole.”
Skyler Ewing homered for the Jackets, who have hit five homers (one of them highly disputed) in the three games of the series.
With the loss, the Hoppers fell to 18-12 in the second half and one-half game behind Hagerstown in the SAL Northern Division. Despite losing the last two games, the Hoppers can gain a series split by winning Tuesday’s game, which starts at 12:30 p.m. Ben Meyer will start for the Hoppers.