Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers overcome delays to thump Power

Hoppers overcome delays to thump Power
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

There were a lot of reasons the Hoppers could have lost their focus Friday.

A long bus ride back from Lakewood that got them home around 6:30 in the morning.

A rain delay of 90-some minutes before the first pitch was ever thrown against West Virginia.

A second rain delay after 3 1/2 innings, this one lasting nearly 80 minutes.

Yet the Hoppers pushed all that aside and pounded the Power 10–3, hitting a season-high five home runs. Micah Brown and Marcos Rivera hit two each and Cameron Baranek added another.

The biggest blow was Brown’s first homer, which came in the Hoppers’ first at-bat after the second delay. Greensboro’s offense managed just one hit in three innings off Power starter Grant Wallace, but the delay ended his night and Evan Piecheta was on the mound when the game resumed in the bottom of the fourth inning.

With two outs, Lazaro Alfonso and Rivera singled and Brown unloaded a three-run shot to left field to push Greensboro ahead 3–1. They kept adding to the lead from there.

“I’ve been waiting for a game like that,” Brown said. “I’ve worked hard to get there. I caught that first one pretty good and our dugout came alive and fed off that the rest of the game.”

Whereas that homer was a classic high fly, the second was a line drive that left the park in a hurry.

“I was out of the box fast because I didn’t think it was going out,” Brown said. “I heard the crowd cheering and that’s when I realized it was gone.”

Brown said it was the first time he had hit two homers in a game since his sophomore year at Lewis & Clark State to help his team win the championship game of the NAIA World Series.

The long day broke down like this for Brown: sleep a little on the bus, sleep a bit more in his own bed, come to the park, prepare for the game, wait out the first delay, prepare again, wait out the second delay, prepare one more time and finally head home.

“You get into this routine of when a game usually starts, then you get stuck in a lull,” he said. “It can be tough to prepare, but you just have to overcome it. I just tried to focus on my goal of having good at-bats and hitting the ball hard.”

Manager Todd Pratt acknowledged the work that Brown has put in with hitting coach Frank Moore.

“He’s been hitting balls hard but hasn’t had any luck,” Pratt said of Brown’s .223 batting average.

Brown raised his totals to five homers and 21 RBIs for the season. Rivera also has five homers and now 18 RBIs. Baranek’s homer, a three-run shot, was his third. Sam Castro drove in a run with a double for his 19th RBI.

The only down side of the game was that young left-hander Trevor Rogers , in his third start, didn’t qualify for the win. His stint was curtailed after four innings because of the second rain delay. But he allowed only one run and impressed pitching coach Mark DiFelice by throwing 34 strikes in 45 pitches.

“It’s the best we’ve seen him,” DiFelice said. “He used his changeup well and was effective throwing strikes. What we’ll look for from him is to take ownership of his routine. He needs the reps in his bullpen session to refine his command.”

Dustin Beggs pitched three shutout innings when the game resumed and was the winner, striking out five.

The teams play Saturday night and Taylor Braley will be the Hoppers’ starter.