Gould lone bright spot as Hoppers are swept
from Bill Hass on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at www.gsohoppers.com
The best thing about Wednesday night for the Hoppers was that the month of August ended.
In losing a doubleheader to Delmarva, 5-3 and 5-0, the Hoppers finished 7-23 for August. They have lost nine straight, 13 of 14 and 20 of 23.
As the calendar flips to September, five games remain. The final home game of the season in NewBridge Bank Park starts at 7 o’clock Thursday night, followed by four games at Lakewood.
“We’re in salvage mode now, playing for pride,” said manager Kevin Randel.
It was another frustrating offensive evening. The lone bright spot was shortstop J.J. Gould, who hit two homers and drove in all three runs in the first game, giving him six RBIs in the last two games.
The Hoppers recorded seven hits in the opener but were stifled in the second game, managing just four baserunners on two hits and two walks. Only one of those reached second base.
What bothered Randel about the first game were things like a runner getting picked off, failure to move runners over and going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
“It’s those little things that can lead to big innings and we aren’t getting them done,” Randel said. “Losing is one thing, but those little mistakes are what eat at me — situational hitting, moving runners. There’s no way we’re that bad. We’re just not mentally focused.”
Gould, playing just his fifth game with the Hoppers, belted a two-run homer in the fourth inning and a solo shot in the in the sixth.
“I think that’s the first time I’ve hit two in a game at any level,” he said.
Gould wasn’t drafted until after his senior season at Jacksonville when the Marlins picked him in the 24th round. He said he matured a lot between his junior and senior years, enough to draw interest from several teams. At age 23, he’s got to make an impression in a hurry. The Marlins sent him to Batavia, where he played 52 games and hit .242 with six homers ant 20 RBIs. He started his Hoppers stint by going 0-for-12.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity because not everyone gets this chance,” he said. “It took me a while to get my feet under me (at this level) but the guys have made the transition pretty easy. I really didn’t change anything. I just stuck with it and started trusting myself more.”
Like everyone else in the lineup, except for the singles by Casey Soltis and John Silviano, Gould came up empty in the second game, going 0-for-3.
NOTES: Cody Poteet will pitch Thursday’s game, his final start of the season … Ryan Newell, rehabbing an injury that has cost him most of the season, pitched two innings and allowed one run in the second game and wound up taking the loss … The Shorebirds hit four homers in the doubleheader, three in the second game … The two losses dropped the Hoppers to 65-70 overall, meaning they must sweep their final five games to finish .500.