Bill Hass on Baseball:Requena’s groove stops Hoppers

Requena’s groove stops Hoppers
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball at

Asheville 7, Greensboro 5

           1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9			R	H	E
Asheville  0	0	0	1	1	3	0	1	1			7	14	1
Greensboro 0	2	0	0	0	0	0	1	2			5	8	1

W: Requena, A (5-3, 2.79) ; L: Brewster (4-7, 4.59) ; SV: Humphreys (3)
HR: ASH: Snyder (5) . GBO: Mahan (1) , De La Rosa, B (1) .

Requena’s groove stops Hoppers
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball at

Don’t let a good starting pitcher get settled.

Ultimately, that was the difference Saturday night as Asheville beat the Hoppers 7–5. Right-hander Alejandro Requena, one of the better starters in the SAL, wriggled off the hook after a tough start, then went on to a strong seven innings.

“He struggled early and we missed some opportunities,” said Hoppers manager Todd Pratt. “He showed composure and then got in a groove and kept us off-balance. You’ve got to get to a pitcher like that early. If they find a groove, then they show why they’ve got good numbers.”

Requena improved to 5–3 with an ERA of 2.79. He gave up two runs on five hits, struck out six and walked one.
The Hoppers had him on the ropes in the second inning. After a leadoff double by Colby Lusignan, a groundout and a walk to Bryan De La Rosa, Lusignan scored on a sacrifice fly by Luis Pintor. On the play, a throwing error by the Tourists allowed De La Rosa to move to third.

Corey Bird then battled Requena, working the count from 0–and-2 to 3-and-2 and fouling off several pitches before crushing a double to center field to score a second run. Aaron Knapp’s flyout ended the inning.

Requena then put five zeroes on the scoreboard, encountering very little trouble to complete his stint.

The Hoppers were able to get to Asheville’s bullpen. Riley Mahan hit his first professional homer in the eighth and De La Rosa hit his first homer as a Hopper, a two-run shot, in the ninth. That brought the score to 7–5, but they couldn’t add any more.

The pitching was uneven. Ethan Clark, in his Hoppers debut, went into the fifth inning but came out after throwing 77 pitches. He gave up two runs, one unearned, and had four strikeouts and two walks. One of the runs came on Clark’s wild pickoff attempt and the other on a broken-bat single.

L.J. Brewster got the final out of the fifth inning on one pitch. In the sixth inning, Brewster gave up a run on a wild pitch, then surrendered a two-run homer to Taylor Snyder that pushed Asheville’s lead to 5–2. The Hoppers never could catch up from there.

Greensboro is now 4–6 in the second half as it integrates new faces into the lineup. Clark, free agent catcher De La Rosa and draft picks Mahan and Brian Miller were all in Saturday’s lineup, but Pratt didn’t use that as an excuse.

“The’re pros, so that shouldn’t hurt us,” he said. “They’re here for a reason and they need to be ready.”

The Hoppers have their two best pitchers lined up to finish the series. Michael King, who has won his last two starts, will go Sunday and Dustin Beggs Monday.

NOTES: Mahan had a pair of hits and Eric Gutierrez added two more … Miller made an excellent diving catch in center field to take away a likely extra-base hit … Willie Abreu had four hits for the Tourists, including three doubles, and scored twice … Snyder had three more hits, adding a double and single to his home run … Asheville pounded out 14 hits in the game.