Bill on Baseball:Hoppers bounce back into tie with Hickory

Hoppers bounce back into tie with Hickory
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball at….

ROME, Ga.?—?Pitching, defense and timely hitting paid off once again the for Hoppers Friday night.
Greensboro’s 4–1 victory over the Rome Braves, combined with Hickory’s 3–1 loss to Columbia, once again created a tie for first place in the Northern Division of the SAL. The Hoppers are 34–25, a winning percentage of .578, and Hickory is 35–26, a percentage of .574.

Starting pitcher Max Duval continued his strong performance since he joined the Hoppers. Duval improved to 3–0 by pitching six innings, allowing one run on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Evan Beal pitched a scoreless seventh inning and Michael Mertz blanked the Braves in the eighth and ninth to earn his third save.

Defensively, left fielder Aaron Knapp threw out two runners. In the first inning he caught a line drive hit by Rome’s Cristian Pache, then threw to first baseman Eric Gutierrez to double off Marcus Mooney. In the third, when runner Anthony Concepcion tried to move from first to third on a single, Knapp threw him out with Rony Cabrera covering.

Offensively, J.C. Millan had three hits, an RBI and scored once. Rony Cabrera had two hits and an RBI, Jarett Rindfleisch had two hits and scored twice. Brian Miller drove in the final run.

In the second inning, Rindfleisch doubled and scored on Millan’s double. Cabrera’s single scored Millan for a 2–0 lead. Rome cut it to 2–1 in the fifth but the Hoppers got the run back in the sixth. Eric Gutierrez singled, went to third on Millan’s single and scored on an error by Rome outfielder Leudys Baez.

In the eighth, the Hoppers loaded the bases and Miller drew a walk to force in Rindfleisch from third base to make it 4–1.

James Nelson, who has been out for two weeks with a pulled hamstring, got back in the Hoppers lineup as the DH and went 1-for-5.

Kolton Mahoney will start Saturday’s game for the Hoppers.