Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers can’t solve Tourists’ offense

Hoppers can’t solve Tourists’ offense
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at….

What is it about Asheville this season?

The Tourists continued their domination of Greensboro Friday night, pounding out a 9–4 win. Asheville has beaten the Hoppers nine times in 11 games.

It’s really no mystery. The Tourists are first in the South Atlantic League in home runs, second in runs scored and third in batting average. Hoppers pitchers haven’t found a way to deal with their lineup, getting tagged for 97 runs in the 11 games.

“They’re aggressive, a good-swinging team of older guys and we haven’t figured them out,” said manager Todd Pratt.

Pitching coach Mark DiFelice said his staff has to stay away from putting the ball in the heart of the strike zone.

“They stress hitting the fastball,” he said, “and we’re here trying to develop the fastball. They’ll let you know if you make a mistake.”

It was close for five innings, tied 1–1. In the top of the sixth, Hoppers starter Taylor Braley had two outs with runners on second and third when he faced Asheville’s top hitter, Casey Golden. The native of Siler City, who played at UNC-Wilmington, ripped a hanging slider for a three-run homer that changed the tone of the game.

“(Braley) had two outs and a base open,” Pratt said, “and he put one where he shouldn’t have. He made one mistake.”

It was Golden’s 26th homer of the year and pushed his RBI total to 75.

The Tourists tacked on four more runs in the seventh against reliever Gabriel Castellanos. Two errors by the Hoppers compounded an ugly inning. They were charged with four errors on the night.

One positive that Pratt saw was the offensive performance of the three youngsters who joined the team earlier this week. Catcher Will Banfield hit his second homer, shortstop Osiris Johnson hit his first and added a single, and center fielder Connor Scott had a single, a double and an RBI. They account for all three of the Hoppers’ RBIs (the other run scored on a wild pitch).

The teams play the second game of the series Saturday night at 7. Trevor Rogers will start for the Hoppers.

NOTES: Braley had pitched five innings of a combined 7-inning no-hitter in his last start, but that streak ended with the game’s first batter when Asheville’s Matt Hearn beat out an infield single … Banfield threw out two runners trying to steal, one at second and one at third … Right fielder Isael Soto threw out a runner at the plate … Garvis Lara, who is on the disabled list, coached first base … Coach Angel Espada, usually stationed at first, has left the team to have surgery and will not return this season.