Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers held at bay most of Saturday

Hoppers held at bay most of Saturday
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

You can’t win all the close ones.

The Hoppers had been specializing in one-run wins to open the season but didn’t have another one in them Saturday night. Charleston kept them at bay until the ninth inning Saturday and stopped the Hoppers’ 3-game winning streak with a 4–2 win.

It wasn’t a particularly good performance in any phase. The Hoppers were held to five hits, struck out 12 times and didn’t get a runner to third base until Eric Gutierrez hit a two-run homer in the ninth. But any thoughts of a further rally ended when Charleston’s Daniel Ramos recovered to strike out Micah Brown and closer Matt Wivinis got a strikeout and groundout to end the game.

The defense let down with two errors in the sixth inning that led to an unearned run. Aaron Knapp uncharacteristically bobbled a ball in center field after a base hit, allowing a runner to reach third base. Later in the inning, the runner was caught in a rundown between third and home, but Marcos Rivera dropped a throw from catcher Michael Hernandez. That allowed the run to score and give the RiverDogs a little cushion with a 3–0 lead.

On the pitching side, Edward Cabrera had an uneven performance but at least kept the game close in his stint. The 20-year-old right-hander gave up a homer to leadoff hitter Wilkerson Garcia to begin the game, was nicked for another run in the third and charged with the unearned run in the sixth. He allowed only three hits but walked three, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch in his 5 1/3 innings.

“It was a pretty good start,” said pitching coach Mark DiFelice. “After the home run he retired the side and then had a scoreless second inning. His fastball command was inconsistent tonight and the breaking ball wasn’t there.

“We asked him to throw 15–20 percent changeups tonight and he used it well. It looked good. He didn’t have his best stuff and sometimes you have to pitch with that. He kept his composure and didn’t let them have any big innings. He’ll have his ups and downs but so far he’s matured each time out.”

Now 9–6 on the season, the Hoppers will try to bounce back Sunday at 2 p.m. in the finale of the four-game series. Brady Puckett will start for Greensboro.