Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers lose but remain one game behind

Hoppers lose but remain one game behind
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball at

The Hoppers couldn’t get their offense going Sunday afternoon and suffered a 2–0 loss to Rome.

Fortunately, they didn’t lose any ground in the SAL Northern Division race. First-place Hickory dropped a 4–3 decision to Columbia, so the Hoppers remain one game behind.

Hickory is now 36–27 and the Hoppers are 34–27. West Virginia (34-29) beat Hagerstown 2–1 by scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth. The Power moved within two games of the Crawdads and within one game of Greensboro.

Hagerstown, at 31–30, is four games back and fading from the race.

Seven games remain in the regular season and everyone has the day off Monday. The Hoppers begin a three-game series at home Tuesday against Kannapolis. Hickory goes on the road to Charleston and West Virginia travels to Lakewood.

Three Rome pitchers combined to shut out the Hoppers. Starter Jeremy Walker went 5 2/3 innings, Jon Kennedy followed with 1 1/3 and Thomas Burrows pitched the final two to earn his third save.

Walker is from Advance, N.C., and pitched at Gardner-Webb. He was a fifth-round draft pick by Atlanta in 2016. He had faced the Hoppers once this year, allowing one run in five innings but not figuring in the decision. This time, he held the Hoppers to four hits while walking two and striking out three. He improved his record to 6–11.

Ethan Clark (3–2) pitched 5 1/3 innings for Greensboro, giving up a run in the third inning and another in the sixth. He surrendered five hits, walked one and struck out five. Kyle Keller shut out the Braves for the last 2 2/3 innings.

James Nelson had three of the Hoppers’ five hits.

Greensboro’s best threat came in the first inning. Brian Miller drew a leadoff walk and ?2 hitter Aaron Knapp bunted and reached safely on a throwing error. Nelson grounded to third baseman Jordan Rogers, who stepped on third for one out and threw to first for a double play. Knapp, who went to second base, then stole third but was stranded when Eric Gutierrez flied out.

In the fourth, Nelson hit a leadoff double and moved to third when Gutierrez grounded out. Trenton Hill struck out for the second out. Jarett Rindfleisch was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners but Jhonny Santos flied out to end the inning.

The Hoppers put two runners on base in the sixth when Nelson singled and Hill drew a one-out walk. Kennedy replaced Walker and got Rindfleisch to ground out to end the inning, and that was the last Hoppers threat.