Bill Hass on Baseball:Golden glitters while playing near home

Golden glitters while playing near home
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at….

Well, at least the kids were all right.

That was about the only bright spot for the Hoppers in the home stand that wrapped up Monday afternoon. Asheville laid yet another whipping on Greensboro, this time 7–1, to complete a four-game sweep. It was the Hoppers’ sixth straight loss after opening with a win over West Virginia.

The outcome ran the Tourists’ record to 12–2 against the Hoppers this season. It was their seventh win in eight games at First National Bank Field.

The Hoppers are 55–61 overall. Take away the games against Asheville and they’re 53–49 against the rest of the SAL. It’s even more dramatic from the Asheville side?—?54–64 overall, but toss out the Greensboro games and the Tourists are just 42–62.

Asheville, which leads the league in home runs, added three more Monday. Casey Golden, the Siler City native, slugged his third of the series and 28th overall. Taylor Snyder and Nic Motley chipped in as well.

Golden may not ever find a park he likes to hit in more than the one in Greensboro. It’s a place he knows well.

“I camped here all the time,” he said about visiting the park while growing up. “I watched ACC Tournament games here and Hoppers games. But the first time I ever played here was the (SAL) All-Star game.”

He got three at-bats that night in June, but no hits. With the Tourists, however, Golden hit six homers and drove in 12 runs in eight games.

“It’s good to play so close to home,” he said. “I had a lot of family and friends here and a felt their positive energy. I didn’t want to try to do too much, but I wanted to give them their money’s worth.”

He had homered and tripled in this game before receiving an intentional walk in the seventh inning. And he was on deck when teammate Sean Bouchard made the final out in the top of the ninth inning.

Golden did not receive a mid-season promotion to Colorado’s high A team, but he said he wasn’t disappointed.

“I’ve talked a lot with the coordinators,” he said. “They have a plan for me and I trust the process.”

The game was decided early when the Tourists jumped to a 5–0 lead after three innings. The Hoppers have had difficulty stringing anything together on offense lately and it was no different Monday.

Starter Daniel Castano gave up that early lead, then pitched three perfect innings. That effort saved the Hoppers from using an extra pitcher from the bullpen. Scott Sebald was the first relief pitcher in, but after walking two batters he left with an apparent injury to his upper left arm. Nestor Bautista pitched the last three innings and allowed one run.

The game marked the end of the first week for the young players the Marlins promoted from the Gulf Coast League?—?18-year-old center fielder Connor Scott, 17-year-old shortstop Osiris Johnson and 18-year-old catcher Will Banfield.

“They held their own,” said manager Todd Pratt. “They made some mistakes, but there’s no reason to get upset about them. The biggest thing they have to learn is to let the game play. Watch the older players. They (the youngsters) might be more talented, but the older guys are more experienced.

“If I had to give them a grade for their first week, I’d say a B. Not a B+, but a good grade.”

For the record, here’s how the three did statistically:

Scott hit .263 with two doubles, two RBIs, three walks, eight strikeouts and wo errors. He made a sparkling catch in the seventh inning of a long fly ball by Jeff Moberg with the bases loaded, probably saving two runs.

Johnson hit .273 with a double, a homer, two RBIs and three runs. He made three errors and will learn that players on the pro level are faster than in high school. He needs to charge the ball and not stay back on grounders.

Banfield hit .200 with three homers and four RBIs. He got his first single as a Hopper in the sixth inning. Defensively, he was repeatedly tested by West Virginia and Asheville, but threw out four of eight runners trying to steal.

The Hoppers have a day off Tuesday, then go to Greenville for three games and Kannapolis for five (Sunday’s game there is a doubleheader).