Bill Hass on Baseball:Lakewood pitchers thwart Hoppers again

Lakewood pitchers thwart Hoppers again
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

This is a fine time for the Hoppers to run into a hot pitching staff.

Lakewood shut down Greensboro’s offense for the second straight game Saturday night, posting a 3–0 victory. The Hoppers’ tailspin continued with their 10th loss in 11 games.

In two games against the BlueClaws, the Hoppers have managed just a dozen hits (six in each game) and one run, which came in the first inning of Thursday’s game. The Hoppers have gone 17 straight scoreless innings since.

A good deal of the problem has been strikeouts. The Hoppers have fanned 28 times against Lakewood pitching, including 15 Saturday.

“You hate to do it, but you have to tip your hat to their pitching,” said Hoppers manager Todd Pratt. “They’re second in the league (with a team ERA of 2.60) and those numbers don’t lie.

“You just keep grinding, trying to have competitive at-bats. Maybe you get some hits and it gets contagious.”

Six-foot-10 left-hander Kyle Young made his first start of the season (he had been in extended spring training) and pitched the first five innings to earn the win. He wasn’t overpowering, relying on off-speed pitches to get most of his six strikeouts. Against relievers Connor Brogden and Kyle Duhy, the Hoppers managed one hit and nine strikeouts in four innings.

The only Hopper with any offensive success was Lazaro Alonso, who doubled and singled against Young.

Brandon Miller took the loss for the Hoppers, but he pitched better than his stat line indicated. He made it through the sixth inning for the first time this year despite giving up 12 hits, minimizing the damage well.

“Nine of those 12 were weak contact,” said pitching coach Mark DiFelice. “He’s making little improvements”

The bullpen threw three hitless innings, with Manny Rodriguez pitching two and Travis Neubeck one.

The teams wrap up the series today with a doubleheader that begins at 1 p.m. Edward Cabrera will start the opener for the Hoppers and Dustin Beggs will make a spot start in the second game.

NOTES: Lakewood posted its seventh staff shutout of the season, tops in the SAL … The game had one unusual aspect for this level of the minor leagues?—?no walks by either team … Alonso is now hitting .418 … BJ Lopez was the only Hopper batter not to strike out … Micah Brown fanned three times.