Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers’ bats come alive in 8-4 win

Hoppers’ bats come alive in 8-4 win
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball, at

The Hoppers’ offense finally came to life in their home park Saturday night as they cracked four home runs to highlight an 8–4 win over Delmarva.

After opening the season by taking three out of four games from Hagerstown, Greensboro’s bats went silent at First National Bank Field. They scored a run in the first inning of the first game of the next series against Hickory, then went 25 consecutive scoreless innings and were swept in three games. They managed only one run in a loss to Delmarva Thursday.

Entering the game with a .184 team batting average Saturday, the Hoppers broke the logjam. They knocked out 12 hits, the most in a home game this season, in dispatching the Shorebirds. The win evened Greensboro’s record at 8–8.

“We’ve been going through a hard time executing our situational hitting,” said manager Miguel Perez, “especially with men in scoring position and less than two outs. We haven’t been able to capitalize.”

The Hoppers went 4–3 on their first road trip of the season, including a game in Charleston when they got 11 runs on 13 hits. Perez believes the hitting will come around, and Saturday’s game was an indication.

“They will hit,” he said. “You can see the anxiety, with everyone trying to hit a five-run homer. They’re learning to take it one pitch at a time. They’re working hard in the cages.

“It’s early and you don’t want to get caught up in numbers. Our message to them is to come to the park, go through the process and the results will be there.”

He said the scoring will pick up when the team sees how “small ball”—bunting for hits, stealing bases—will help the cause.

“That’s a big part of our game, and it will come eventually,” Perez said. “When we put pressure on the defense, we’ll score more runs.”

One example of that came in the second inning. Lolo Sanchez bunted and forced the pitcher to field the ball with his bare hand, A bad throw to first resulted in a two-base error and Sanchez on second. Connor Kaiser followed with a single up the middle to score Sanchez.

Most of the rest of the runs came as the result of homers. Fabricio Macias and Brett Kinneman each hit solo shots and Mason Martin and Pat Dorrian both hit one with a runner on board.

Sanchez belted his fourth triple of the season in the eighth inning and came in on Kaiser’s single. Kaiser’s two RBIs doubled his total for the season.

“I think everyone is trying to groove their swing, settle down and get back to basics,” said Kaiser, who played at Vanderbilt. “See the pitch, get good extension to stay through the pitch, put the barrel of the bat on the ball.

“When I get up with men on base, I don’t try to change anything in my approach. I want to get a good pitch to hit and try to stay up the middle. I don’t want to make the moment too big.”

The Hoppers were supposed to play a doubleheader but rain delayed the 5 o’clock start by over an hour-and-a-half. The decision was made to play one nine-inning game instead of two seven-inning games. Friday’s rainout will be made up when Delmarva returns to Greensboro in May.

The Hoppers are off Sunday, then head out on a road trip to Lexington for three games and Hagerstown for four.

NOTES: The loss was only the second in 14 games for Delmarva … Sanchez’s three hits raised his average to .358 … The homers by Martin and Kinneman were their second; Macias and Dorrian each hit their first … Steven Jennings limited the Shorebirds to two runs in five innings to pick up his first win … Nick Economos pitched two innings of relief and Samuel Reyes and Joe Jacques finished with an inning each.