Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers lose to Rome, drop to 2nd place

Hoppers lose to Rome, drop to 2nd place
from Bill Hass at Bill on Baseball at

ROME, Ga.?—?The tight race in the SAL Northern Division continued Saturday with yet another change in first place.
While the Hoppers were absorbing a 9–4 loss to Rome, Hickory beat Columbia 11–7, surviving a 5-run rally in the top of the ninth by the Fireflies.

The results put the Crawdads in first place with a 36–26 record while the Hoppers dropped to second with a 34–26 mark, one game behind. West Virginia (33–29) is three games back and Hagerstown (31–29) is four.

Greensboro had beaten Rome in all five meetings this season but couldn’t make it six straight. Drew Lugbauer hit a pair of two-run homers for the Braves, including one in a four-run seventh inning that put the game away.

For the Hoppers, Jarett Rindfleisch had two hits, including a double, drove in a run and scored one. Walker Olis had an RBI double, Jhonny Santos had an RBI double and Micah Brown drove in a run.

The teams traded the lead a couple of times until the fifth, when the Braves took a 5–4 lead against Hoppers starter Kolton Mahoney. In the seventh, Rome added four more runs against reliever R.J. Peace, making his first appearance as a Hopper.

It was a tough inning for Peace, who gave up four hits (two were bunt singles), two walks and four runs. After he balked home a run, Peace gave up the homer to Lugbauer that put the game out of reach.

The teams wrap up the three-game series with a 2 p.m. game Sunday. Ethan Clark (3-1, 2.11) draws the start for the Hoppers.

The Hoppers return to First National Bank Field on Tuesday to start a three-game series against Kannapolis. They close the season with four games at Hickory.