Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers unravel after rain delay

Hoppers unravel after rain delay
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball at

The rain came and the Hoppers left.

At least, that’s the way it appeared Sunday. Asheville had cut a 4–0 deficit to 4–3 when its game against the
Hoppers went into a rain delay of just over an hour.

When it resumed, it was as if the Hoppers never came out of the locker room. Asheville immediately jumped on Hoppers pitching for four runs n the sixth inning and three more in the seventh. The resulting 10–4 lead stood up over the final two innings.

Greensboro’s offense evaporated. A trio of Tourist relievers retired the first 10 Hoppers hitters after the delay, seven by strikeout. After an infield hit by Bryan De La Rosa, Rony Cabrera hit into a double play to end the game.

What made it worse is that the Hoppers started the game in such a positive way. Dylan Lee struck out the side in the first inning and cruised through the second and third. The offense hit for the cycle in the third inning, getting three singles, a double, a triple and a homer to stake the team to a 4–0 lead.

But things began to crack in the fourth inning, ironically after Asheville had two batters ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Vince Fernandez was tossed so quietly by home plate umpire Reed Basner after a strikeout that hardly anyone realized he was gone other than the players on the field. Then Willie Abreu went nose-to-nose with
Basner arguing a strike call and was unceremoniously kicked out.

Instead of folding, the Tourists seem to feed on the fact that two of their best hitters were abruptly gone. Abreu had a 1-and-2 count when he was ejected. Jacob Bosiokovic came in to pinch hit for him and promptly belted a double. Tyler Nevin followed with a two-run homer and the Tourists cut the lead in half.

Lee regained his touch in the fifth inning without incident. In the bottom of the fifth, thunder and lightning began as the Hoppers were retired. An observer suggested the top of the sixth never should have started because of the extensive lightning. But it did and Lee was tagged for a home run by Taylor Snyder, who had replaced the ejected Fernandez. Then rain began, the game was called and the tarp spread over the field.

The delay was slightly more than an hour and when the game resumed, the Hoppers still had a 4–3 lead. Parker Bugg replaced Lee and walked the first man he faced. Before the inning concluded, he surrendered a triple, double and two singles?—?Asheville matched the Hoppers’ feat of hitting for the cycle in the inning?—?and suddenly the Tourists were ahead 7–4.

Asheville sealed the game with three more runs in the seventh inning.

Bugg took the loss and Asheville starter Antonio Santos, who was on the hook for the loss when the game was interrupted, received a gift victory.

The Hoppers dropped to 1–4 on the homestand and 13–15 in the second half. They still have a chance to split the Asheville series but they need to win the last two games. Kolton Mahoney will start Monday’s 7 p.m. game.

NOTES: Brian Miller had three of the Hoppers’ nine hits … James Nelson hit his sixth home run and J.C. Millan drove in his first run as a Hopper … Greensboro hit into four double plays and the Hoppers played some sloppy baseball … Trenton Hill dropped a throw from Bugg when a runner was picked off … Millan held onto the ball behind second base and apparently never saw a runner rounding third and coming in to score … De La Rosa made an error on a pickoff throw and was charged with two passed balls … Asheville, which leads the SAL in stolen bases, swiped three that never even drew a throw.