Bill Hass on Baseball:One bad inning costs Hoppers

One bad inning costs Hoppers
from Bill Hass on Baseball at

Bad innings come along every so often.

The Greenville Drive hit the Hoppers with a seven-run fifth inning Wednesday night and rolled to an 8–2 victory at First National Bank Field.

“The hitters won today,” said manager Todd Pratt. “And you tip your hat to their pitchers.”

Coming off a 4–2 road trip in which they gave up just 15 runs, the Hoppers were only down 1–0 through four innings.

But Kolton Mahoney was tagged for six runs in the inning and reliever Parker Bugg was charged with the other.

The big hits were a two-run triple by Tucker Tubbs off Mahoney and a two-run homer by Isaias Lucena off Bugg.
Pitching coach Mark DiFelice thought the biggest hit in the inning was a one-out bunt single by Lorenzo Cedrola that set the stage for the big inning.

“If (Mahoney) fields the ball, which he probably should have, it might have been a completely different inning,” DiFelice said. “He seemed to get a little tired and couldn’t execute his off-speed pitches for strikes, or induce them to swing at them. Then he started elevating his fastball.”

Meanwhile, Greenville starter Kyle Hart, a tall left-hander, cruised through five shutout innings, allowing just two hits. Two relievers finished up, surrendering two unearned runs. The Hoppers managed only four hits, including a pair of doubles by Rony Cabrera and another by Brian Miller.

A significant part of the Hoppers’ first-half offense?—?Colby Lusignan and Boo Vazuez?—?is now in Jupiter. Pratt’s lineup against the Drive included two players making their Greensboro debuts, second baseman J.C. Millan and first baseman Trenton Hill. They were a combined 0-for-7 Wednesday.

Millan is a native of Cuba who went to a private high school in Miami and played at Broward College, a two-year school. He was signed as an undrafted free agent last year. He was hitting .273 in 12 games at Batavia.

Hill, a left-handed hitter, is a converted pitcher. In two years at Lee University in Tennessee, Hill was 14–7 as a pitcher and hit .378 as a senior with seven homers and 45 RBIs. He was hitting .400 (10-for-25) in the Gulf Coast League.

“Lusignan and Vazquez were key parts of our lineup,” Pratt said. “But we were 4–2 on the road without them. Our team isn’t built to score a lot of runs. We’re a scrappy team with a lot of speed.”

NOTES: Millan takes the roster spot of Justin Twine, who was promoted to Jupiter … Twine was in his third year as a Hopper but was hitting only .185 this season … Ethan Clark will start the second game of the series for the Hoppers Thursday.