Greensboro Grasshoppers take down Greenville Drive, 5-3, in crucial matchup

GREENSBORO, NC — The Greensboro Grasshoppers are back on track. After two rough losses against the Greenville Drive to kick off the series, everybody did their part tonight to give the Grasshoppers a 5-3 victory and recapture control of the South Atlantic League North.
I have often said that with a team like the Hoppers, the stat sheet cannot be the overall story, and this is the perfect game to prove that point. Hudson Head went one-for-three. But, that one hit was a two-run homer, his sixth of the year, that pushed the Grasshoppers ahead, 3-1. In the bottom of the eighth, Head scored the final run for the Grasshoppers off of a wild pitch, and in the top of the ninth, he caught the final out. 

Lonnie White, Jr. is another example. White went 0-4 tonight, but he had a massive impact on the entire trajectory of the game. Star southpaw Hunter Barco was having a rough start on the mound, and the bases had been loaded with zero outs in the top of the first. Barco struck out one man, allowed a run on a sacrifice fly from another, and there were runners on first and second when Tyler Miller came up to the plate with two outs. Of course, Barco wanted to limit the damage to keep that 2.41 ERA looking good, and the problem with the Grasshoppers throughout the series has been huge starts from the Drive, with a combined 16-3 Drive lead over the first three innings for the series. So, when Tyler Miller lined it out to center field, Andy Durham and I were sweating bullets, but in came White with a Superman cape on making the diving catch to end the inning! If he doesn’t make that beautiful catch, multiple runs could have been scored, Barco could have gotten in his own head, and this pivotal game could have been a loss that wrecked the entire series.

No Grasshopper had more than one hit tonight, but let me reiterate, everyone had an impact. Also, Greensboro continued their trend of not needing a lot of hits to win games. The Drive outhit them, as is often the case, but the Grasshoppers thrive off of the home runs and smart baserunning. The Hoppers may have a worse batting average than Greenville, but they have twenty-three more home runs, and unfortunately for Greenville, getting on base is not what shows up on the scoreboard. 

Let’s zoom out for a moment and take a look at the bigger picture. The Hoppers took control of the division, but it is neck-and-neck across the board. Greensboro is one game ahead of Jersey Shore, two games in front of Brooklyn and Aberdeen, two-and-a-half games ahead of Hudson Valley, and three games in front of Wilmington. No one is below .500. So, when you catch some momentum like they may have tonight, you need to ride that wave for as long as possible. The Grasshoppers should aim to close out this series strong, take care of business in Asheville next week, and then come back to First National Bank Field in early June ready for a huge battle with the Jersey Shore Blue Claws, one that could decide the fate of the division as first half baseball winds down.

When every team in your division is within three games of one another, each and every game matters, which makes tonight’s victory all the sweeter.