Results tagged ‘ noah perio ’
After tonight’s nail-biting win, one of my friends exclaimed “The ‘Heart Attack Hoppers’ do it again!” He was right on the money.
Tonight’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the Savannah Sand Gnats was the first game of the SAL Championship Series. It had it all. Home runs? Check. Balk? Check. Strategic substitutions? Check. Walk-off homer that was called foul? Check. Manager ejection? Check. Walk-off double two batters later? Check. With two outs, Marcell Ozuna was robbed of what would have been a 2-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth. Then he made it to base on a walk. Then the pitcher balked. Christian Yelich walked to load the bases. Two outs, bases loaded, Mark Canha hit a perfect double towards center field. Danny Black scores to tie and Marcell Ozuna scores to win. It was tense, the fans were upset at the umps. Everyone was cheering for the Hoppers, and when things were tight, the Hoppers did what the Hoppers do. They delivered. They kept the game exciting right to the very end. And they tried to give fans heart attacks while they were working their way to the win. I’ve been saying it a lot lately, but it’s true: it’s a good time to be a Hoppers fan.
Check out the official box score and game recap for all the details. Savannah has also posted a game story. Check out Bill on Baseball for a great post, too: Hoppers come to expect late-inning heroics, with quotes from several of the players and Andy.
Starting tonight for the Hoppers was Kyle Winters. As regular readers of this blog know, he’s my favorite Hoppers pitcher. That’s why I especially hate to say that he had a rough night tonight. It wasn’t bad, but it was poised to turn bad at any moment. I was nervous from the beginning, when the Sand Gnats managed to load the bases with only one out on the board. Fortunately, a popup to third and a fly to right ended the inning. In the second inning, Winters game up a double to the first batter he faced, who was subsequently driven in by a sacrifice fly. In the third inning, one of the Savannah batters hit a home run, as did a Sand Gnat in the fourth inning. After facing three batters in the fifth, Winters was pulled with runners on second and third. Taking the mound in his place was Alex Caldera. Caldera pitched 2.2 innings of no-hit, one walk baseball, picking up three Ks along the way. In the top of the 8th, Caldera was replaced by Grant Dayton, who pitched both the eighth and the ninth. Dayton gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, as well as two doubles. He also notched up three Ks and was the pitcher of record when the winning run scored, so he gets credited with the win. This was another great example of the Hoppers bullpen really performing solidly for the team.
Here’s what I thought was a cool picture of Ryan Fisher. I think he was swinging and missing in this shot.
Offensively, the Hoppers impressive from the beginning, then mostly lacking until the very end. Noah Perio started the first inning with a double to right field. On the first pitch he saw, Marcell Ozuna hit a home run, bringing the score 2-0, Hoppers. The Sand Gnats chipped away at that lead, scoring a run in each of the second, third, and fourth innings. The Hoppers tied the score at 3 in the fifth inning when Ryan Fisher hit a solo home run to right that left the park with such force that I think it sailed over the Mariott and all the way to Alamance County before landing. There were no more scoring plays until the Savannah home run in the eighth put them ahead 4-3. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Aaron Dudley replaced Wilfredo Giminez as a pinch-hitter. Immediately, the Sand Gnats responded by replacing their pitcher to create what they believed would be a better pitcher-hitter matchup. Their new pitcher walked Dudley, who was then replaced by Joe Bonadonna as a pinch runner on first. At this point, the bases were loaded and the Hoppers were poised to take advantage of the situation when Ryan Fisher came to bat, but he ended the inning by striking out. The ninth was the crucial inning for the Hoppers. The Sand Gnats got a runner as far as second, but did not score. The bottom of the ninth kept everyone on the edge of their seats. Isaac Galloway reached first on a walk, but was put out on a fielder’s choice when Danny Black bunted. Noah Perio struck out. With two outs on the board, Marcell Ozuna hit a home run to left field that was just fair of the foul pole, but the umpire ruled it foul. This caused Andy Haines to engage in impassioned debate with the umpire about the call, eventually getting ejected. As he left the field, he got Marcell’s attention and yelled at him to do it again. Instead of doing it again, Marcell walked. With runners on first and second and Christian Yelich at the plate, the pitcher balked. With first base now open but runners on the other bags, the pitcher walked (probably intentionally, but they were playing it close) Yelich. With the bases loaded and Mark Canha stepping up to the plate, the Sand Gnats made one final pitching change. It turned out to be a mistake, because Canha hit a solid double to center field. Black scored to tie. Ozuna scored to win. The Hoppers dugout exploded for the second time (it also emptied when Ozuna hit the ball that was called foul).
Here’s what Ozuna looked like hitting the home run he was robbed of:
Cahna got an ice water shower. Then he got a shaving cream pie in the face. The fans loved it. The team loved it.
This puts Greensboro in a great advantage going into the rest of the series. This series is best of five, and it’s great for the Hoppers to already have a one game lead. The next game will be played tomorrow night in Greensboro. Then, the teams go to Savannah to play on Thursday, and if necessary, Friday and Saturday. Personally, I’m hoping for a sweep. It’s been a long time since Greensboro has brought home the SAL title. This might be the year for it to happen.
Here’s how I had the game. Full of excitement, especially at the end..
Remember, you can click on any of the pictures in the post to embiggen them. Check out the photo album on Facebook for all the pictures. Join the conversation by leaving a comment — what are you thinking?
“This is a magical game.”
That’s what one of my new Hoppers friends said sometime around the 13th inning of tonight’s 15-inning Greensboro Grasshoppers playoff game against the Hickory Crawdads. The game ended with a walk-off two-run homer hit by Christian Yelich. It’s a huge win for the Hoppers, who now only need one more win to take the best-of-three series, claim the division championship, and head to the league championship.
Going into the game, I was talking with the guys who hang out on Eugene Street during batting practice and I predicted that the game tonight could go pretty much any way: a complete blowout on either side, or an incredibly close and tense game. I was leaning towards close and tense, and that’s exactly what we got. Check out the official box score and game recap for all the details, but here’s how it went down for the Hoppers.
Starting for Greensboro was Rhett Varner. The game was scoreless through four innings. In the top of the fifth, Hickory scored a run. After six innings, Brett Zawacki replaced Varner on the mound. Greensboro did not score a run until the eighth inning, when Marcell Ozuna hit a solo home run. Grant Dayton took the mound for the Hoppers in the ninth. The score remained tied at 1-1 through the ninth inning. It was a tense game the whole time. Things got even more tense in the tenth. Michael Brady took the mound for the Hoppers, and the second batter he faced hit a solo home run, bringing the score 2-1 in favor of Hickory. When the Hoppers took the plate in the bottom of the tenth, they needed a run to stay in the game. And that’s exactly what they got from Danny Black, who walked, advanced to second on a beautiful sacrifice bunt by Isaac Galloway, advanced to third on a 6-3 groundout by Noah Perio, and made it home on a Marcell Ozuna single. Unfortunately, Christian Yelich flew out, ending the inning with the score tied 2-2. The eleventh and twelfth were scoreless. Jordan Conley replaced Brady on the mound in the twelfth. The thirteenth inning was the most tense of the game. The first batter reached on a double. The second batter walked. The third batter laid down a nice sacrifice bunt, advancing the base runners to second and third. Conley intentionally walked the next batter, loading the bases. At this point, Conley was replaced by Mike Ojala, who pitched the rest of the game and is credited with the win. Ojala struck out the first batter he faced, which put two outs on the board. The next batter singled, driving in one (and thank goodness only one) run. Finally, the last batter grounded into a 4-3 out. The Hoppers were both lucky and skillful in getting out of that situation with only one run scored. With the score now 3-2 in favor of Hickory, the Hoppers once again found themselves in need of a run to stay in the game. And once again, they found it. This time it came when Marcell Ozuna singled, and was then driven in by a Christian Yelich double. There were no other runs, so we left the thirteenth inning with the score tied at 3. This was particularly disappointing, as the Hoppers stranded three runners. We were hoping for either a walk-off grand slam or a walk-off walk to end the game, but our wish was not granted. There were no scoring plays in the fourteenth inning. In the fifteenth, Hickory scored another run via a homer, putting the score 4-3. Once again, the Hoppers found themselves in need of a run in order to stay alive. Things were looking good for the Hoppers, with the middle of the lineup scheduled to bat. Marcell Ozuna reached first after being hit (slightly grazed, it appeared to me) by a pitch. Then Christian Yelich drove him in on a two-run walk-off homer that was simply a bomb. The stadium exploded. The Hoppers cleared the dugout to welcome Ozuna and Yelich home. The fans went wild. It really was magical.
As always, Bill on Baseball has a great recap, including quotes from the players and manger: Hoppers’ flair for drama continues.
So, now Greensboro is in the playoffs for the first time since 1999. They’re facing tough competition, and they’re coming through. They’re not making it through easily, though. A fifteen inning game is tough on the team. I wonder how the bullpen is holding up. Fortunately, tomorrow is an off day so the team can rest before heading to Hickory for Friday, and if necessary, Saturday. With a best-of-three series like this, it is vitally important to get the first game so that your opponent is playing “catch up.”
Another fun note from the game. One of the advertising tie-ins is with Taylor Made Kettle Corn, which is unquestionably the best value concession at the ballpark. When the Hoppers catch a high fly ball, they call it a “Taylor Made Can Of Corn.” The first time they did that tonight, I held up my bag of kettle corn high above my head, which must have caught Jim Scott’s attention, as he announced on the PA that I was holding it up. It was funny to hear my name come through the PA at the park — thanks, Jim. And I’m glad to help share the love of kettle corn to all the baseball fans. I usually buy an extra bag to take home from the game.
My seat was right behind the Hoppers’ on-deck circle and I got a few decent pictures of the batters as they were warming up. Here are a couple of Marcell Ozuna that I’m particularly fond of.
I’ll be heading to Hickory after work Friday for the game. I’ll be pulling for the Hoppers to shut Hickory down and take the series early. If they do win the division championship, two of the league championship games will be played in Greensboro next week.
Remember, you can click on any of the pictures in the post to embiggen them. Check out the photo album on Facebook for all the pictures. Join the conversation by leaving a comment — what are you thinking?
The Hoppers were victorious, 9-6. But it took them 10 innings to claim victory, creating a lot of stress and tension among the sizable group of Hoppers fans who were in attendance. You’re free to check out the official box score, game recap, or game story (Kannapolis version or Greensboro version), but none of that conveys the level of tension that was in the ballpark in the eighth inning. Take a look at my scorecard (pictured at the end of this post) to get an idea of what I’m talking about.
The day started out well enough. I was keeping an eye on the weather map to decide if I should make the trip down or not. Reports from Kannapolis indicated it was warm and sunny, so at about 10:30, I jumped in the truck and headed down the road. It was a nice drive, the roads were clear, and the sun was out. I got to the ballpark and immediately saw a couple of my friends from Greensboro. We got inside the park and ran into more people that we knew. It wasn’t long before most of the Hoppers fans found each other and settled into our seats, mostly around the visitor’s dugout.
The game started, and the Hoppers scored two runs in the first inning. Noah Perio had reached on a single and was subsequently driven in when Christian Yelich hit a home run. The Intimidators went three up, three down in the first. In the second, the Hoppers scored two more runs. Wilfredo Giminez doubled and was subsequently driven in when Isaac Galloway doubled. Galloway was driven in when Ryan Fisher doubled. It was like we were having a doubling party, but the Intimidators broke it up by joining with a double play, closing out the half-inning. In the bottom of the second, the Intimidators scored one run. In the top of the third, Marcell Ozuna scored a solo homer. His was the only run on either side in the third. In the fourth, both the Hoppers and the Intimidators went three up, three down. In the In the fifth, the Hoppers were scoreless but the Intimidators scored another run. In the sixth, Danny Black scored for the Hoppers, having reached base on a walk and scoring from first on a double by Wilfredo Giminez. There were no other scoring plays until the bottom of the eighth.
And that’s when the Hoppers fans started getting nervous.
Before talking about the eighth, let’s look at a picture of Christian Yelich coming home after his home run in the first. That’ll put us in a good mood for the nervousness that’s about to ensue.
Going into the bottom of the eighth, the Hoppers had the lead, with the score 6-2. Robert Morey had pitched very well, and after seven innings of work, was relieved by Grant Dayton. Dayton faced five batters. The first flew out to right. The second reached on a double. The third walked. The fourth walked. With the bases loaded, Dayton walked the fifth batter he faced, and a run scored. With the bases still loaded, Dayton was replaced by Chris Shafer. This is aways a tough spot for a pitcher: to inherit a situation where the bases are loaded. Shafer struck out the first batter he faced, but the second batter he faced singled and two more runs scored. Shafer was replaced by Michael Brady, who struck out the only batter he faced in the eighth.
Three pitchers. Three runs. The comfortable lead the Hoppers had maintained throughout the entire game was eliminated. They still maintained a lead, but it was only one run, with the score 6-5.
And now it was raining. It kept raining ’til the end of the game and my entire drive back to Greensboro.
In the ninth, the Hoppers went three up, three down. One run behind, all the Hoppers fans were tense. The Intimidators were about to send the heart of their lineup to the plate. The first batter struck out. *wshew* The second batter grounded out. *wshew* One out was all that was between the Hoppers and a playoff spot. The next batter reached on a single. That’s OK. The next batter reached on a double good enough to push the baserunner in. Great, now the game is tied with the winning run in scoring position. Fortunately, the next batter flew out to center field. Inning over, but now it’s a tie ballgame.
In the tenth, the Hoppers do what they’ve done time and time again the past several weeks whenever they find themselves in a tough spot. They dug in, and they delivered. Ryan Fisher grounded out. Noah Perio doubled. Marcell Ozuna singled and advanced to second on the throw while Perio scored. The Intimidators intentionally walked Christian Yelich. I guess his home run in the first inning scared them. Mark Canha flied out to center. JT Realmuto doubled, driving in both Ozuna and Yelich. Finally, Danny Black grounded out. Three big runs for the Hoppers, when they really needed it. In the bottom of the tenth, Jordan Conley replaced Brady. The first batter he faced singled, but the next three struck out.
The game was over.
The Hoppers won.
The Hoppers won!
The Hoppers made it to the playoffs! With this win and Hickory‘s loss today, the Hoppers were tied with Hickory for the second half title. But since Hickory was already in the playoffs, the tiebreaker went to Greensboro. It was a great win, and the Hoppers did it all by themselves. They didn’t end up needing some other team to win or lose in order for them to make it in, they controlled their own destiny right to the end. This has especially been an amazing second half of the season — they’ve won 21 of their last 28 games, 11 of their last 12. This is the first time Greensboro has been to the playoffs since 1999.
The playoff game in Greensboro is Wednesday. Then, in Hickory on Friday. If necessary, a third game will be played in Hickory on Saturday. I’m planning on going to every game in the series. Initially, there was some confusion about when the first game would be played, but Bill on Baseball cleared it all up: Home playoff game Wednesday.
It’s definitely an exciting time to be a Hoppers fan!
Here’s how I had today’s game. You can just see the tension in the bottom of the eighth.
Remember, you can click on any of the pictures in the post to embiggen them. Check out the photo album on Facebook for all the pictures. Join the conversation by leaving a comment — what are you thinking?
History was made at Newbridge Bank Park last night, when the Greensboro Grasshoppers went nineteen innings against the West Virginia Power for the longest game ever played at the park. At nineteen innings, it was like going to a double header. Considering that double headers are shortened games at seven innings, it was almost like going to a triple header. The Hoppers were victorious. Check out the official box score and the game recap for the details. I’m sure Bill on Baseball will have something to say about it soon, too.
I only took one picture last night, and it didn’t come out well, but here’s the winning run about to reach base. This occurred over five hours into the game, at a little after midnight.
It was very, very cool to be at that game. By the time the game was over, there were probably more players on the field than there were fans in the seats. It didn’t help that it started raining sometime around the twelfth and didn’t let up until about the seventeenth. It wasn’t hard, slightly more than a drizzle, but it was persistent. Kudos to the grounds crew for keeping the field playable through the rain and to the umps for not calling a delay. That would have been extra crazy.
Because of the rain, I quit keeping score sometime around the thirteenth because my book was starting to get too wet. Also, the Power made a few defensive substitutions that were difficult for me to keep up with, including moving their second baseman to pitcher. So I’m going to study the official recap and finish my scorecard later.
I’ve got conflicts for the next three games, but I hope the Hoppers keep tearing it up while I can’t be there. I’m looking forward to getting back to the ballpark Monday for the last two home games.
Join the conversation by leaving a comment — what are you thinking?
Tonight’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the West Virginia Power was a true joy to attend on many fronts. Obviously, a Hoppers victory is always a pleasure. I also spent the evening at the game with Donald, one of my good friends. Finally, it was a huge day for adding to my autograph collection. The Hoppers won, 3-1. Check out the official box score and game recap for the details, but I think Twitter user @CBinder513 said it best:
Seriously, it was that exciting. You don’t usually expect decisive gameplay from the bottom of your lineup, but tonight, the Hoppers delivered. When the Power put a run on the board in the sixth inning, Joe Bonadonna responded by blasting a solo home run high over left field. At first, I thought it had drifted foul, but it was ruled fair. Especially since Joe doesn’t get as much playing time as his teammates, it was great to see him hit that homer. The official score had him going 1-2, but I scored his plate appearance in the fourth as a sacrifice bunt, so I had him 1-1. I don’t disagree with the official scorer, though. Then, with the score tied at 1 apiece, Noah Perio replaced Bonadonna in the eighth and hit a home run of his own, very high over right-center field. Isaac Galloway had just reached on a double, so Perio’s homer brought him in as well. It was pretty awesome. After last night’s loss, it was great to come back and get a solid win.
I’ve got a few pictures with highlights from the game, and a bunch of pictures on the Facebook photo album.
FIrst, let’s celebrate the promotion of the night by checking out Spaz, Mike, and Laura in their disco attire:
I totally want a big black fuzzy hat like Spaz has.
How about our starting pitcher, Zach Neal? I think this was his 2nd start after coming off the disabled list. He lasted three and two-third innings, allowed two hits, issued three walks, and one strike-out. I think it was a pretty good start for him. Here he is pitching:
Zach was replaced by Greg Nappo (whose autograph I got at Monday’s game), who pitched three and a third innings and delivered an impressive seven strikeouts. Four of those Ks were in a row — batters 2-5 that he faced. He allowed four hits, the only run, and issued just one walk. I was very impressed and hope that I get to see him pitch again before the season’s over. Here’s a picture of Greg pitching:
Finally, here’s a picture of Joe Bonadonna coming home after hitting his solo homer:
Earlier, I mentioned it was a great night for me for autographs. Let me show them to you. First, there were my baseball cards. I got Power’s pitcher Jameson Taillon‘s autographed on the two cards out of the SAL All-Star sets I have. I also got Hoppers Manager Andy Haines’ autograph on his card. Andy was especially kind to come back to the tunnel to sign my card before the game after having to do some actual baseball-related work just before they introduced the umpires.
I also got a couple of baseballs autographed. Jameson Taillon and one of my favorite Hoppers, Mark Canha. I’m going to miss Mark’s walk-up music next year — he always comes to the plate to Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.”
Lastly, I got yet another Jameson Taillon autograph. This one is particularly special, because it’s on a photograph that another fan, Pete, took at last night’s game:
Seriously, this photograph is totally awesome, super-boss, and just plain cool. My scan came out OK, but the actual print is killer. I’ll be getting a frame for this and adding it to the baseball mini-museum I’ve started curating in an empty cube at my office. (I’ll write a post about that in the off season….) Super-big thanks go out to Pete for giving me a copy of this picture so I can add it to my autograph collection. Looking through some of the pictures he’s taken this year, I know exactly what’s going on my birthday/Christmas wish list this year: a nice telephoto lens suitable for sports photography. I had never considered taking pictures at the game, printing them out, and then bringing them to the next game for autographs. It’s super cool.
So, why all the focus on autographs from a West Virginia Power pitcher? Yeah, I’m the Hoppers Fan, but I also enjoy good baseball, and Taillon is a player to watch. He was last year’s number two overall draft pick (second to Bryce Harper). He’s got a fastball that flirts with 100mph. He’s got a nice curveball. And he’s just 19. He’s definitely got a major league career ahead of him. It was exciting to watch him work last night. And he was very gracious to autograph-seeking fans like me tonight.
To top all of that off, I got to hang with my buddy Donald for the whole game. He even bought me a hot dog and a drink. Even more — he grabbed a foul ball tonight that bounced off the upper deck and headed back our way. As soon as he picked it up, he handed it to the kid in the row in front of us. Made that kid’s day. I’m not sure a better evening of baseball could be had.
Here’s how I had the game scored. Check out the action that Bonadonna and Perio delivered in the sixth and eighth innings.
The Greensboro Grasshoppers beat the Augusta GreenJackets by such a wide margin (13-2) tonight that it’s almost embarrassing to talk about. Except for Danny Black, every Hoppers starting position player scored at least one run. Kyle Winters appeared to have an off night for his latest start after recently coming off the DL (he pitched three and two-thirds innings and didn’t get the win), but James Leverton’s relief pitching was good enough to easily carry throughout the rest of the game. Combined with both poor pitching and poor offense from the GreenJackets, the Hoppers came away from this game with an easy win. Check out the official box score and game recap for the details. There’s also a nice story from the GreenJackets perspective of the game: GreenJackets Held to Five Hits in 13-2 Setback. As of my writing this, Bill Hass hasn’t posted a story about tonight’s game on the Bill on Baseball blog, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that he’ll have some great insight from the players with their thoughts of how the game went down. Update: Bill’s blog entry about the game is up now: How to respond to a buzzing. He focuses on Perio’s two home runs, and includes thoughts from Perio about his performance.
I don’t have a whole lot in the way of pictures from this game, but here’s a shot of the latest GreenJackets pitcher to have the Hello Kitty backpack, Seth Rosin:
One of the autograph-seeking kids asked why he had a pink backpack and Seth’s response was it was because he gave up a homer (to Marcell Ozuna) in last night’s game. I wonder who will be wearing the backpack tomorrow. If they had enough backpacks, I’d make all four of tonight’s pitchers wear one.
Check out the Facebook photo album for the rest of the pictures I took tonight, including some pitching sequences of both Kyle Winters and James Leverton.
Offensively, the Hoppers looked great tonight. Like I mentioned earlier, everyone except Danny Black got to score: Noah Perio (x2), Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich (x2), Mark Canha (x2), Jacob Realmuto (x3), Wilfredo Giminez, Ryan Fisher, and Isaac Galloway. Four of those runs were homers — Noah Perio (x2), Mark Canha, and Jacob Realmuto. It was really impressive to watch Noah hit back-to-back homers in the third and fourth innings. I think they awarded him “Player Of The Game” for tonight based on his performance.
The Hoppers were aided in their win tonight by the fact that the GreenJackets just kind of fell apart. Going into the fourth inning, the game was tied 1-1. When Jacob Realmuto came to the plate as the second batter of the inning, the momentum dramatically shifted to the Hoppers’ favor. Realmuto reached base on an an error (charged to the first baseman) and ended up being the first of five runs scored that inning. I’m not even sure how many of those runs count as earned and how many count as unearned. But when that error occurred, I commented to a friend sitting next to me that it might turn out to be an extremely expensive error. I believe that it was. While the GreenJackets were able to score a second run in the sixth, they never really posed much of an offensive or defensive threat after committing that error. There were several times during the game when the Hoppers could have pressed for a greater advantage, but the unwritten rules of baseball kept them playing conservatively.
I’m glad to have the win in our column, but especially after the tense battle of yesterday’s game, it just doesn’t seem right to revel in tonight’s victory too much. We’ll see how tomorrow goes and if we can take the series or end up splitting it with the GreenJackets. This has been a really enjoyable series, and I’d love to see these two teams meet on the diamond again for the SAL championship title. Tonight’s win puts us four and a half games out of first — we gained a game since yesterday. So we’re inching our way up the ladder, staying in contention. If we keep this up, it’s going to go right down to the wire, and make for a very exciting end of the season.
Here’s how I had the game. Check out the impressive bottom of the fourth, and all the runs that were scored.
Tonight’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the Lakewood Blueclaws put the nails on the coffin of a clean four-game sweep. As always, check the official box score and game recap for the details. Don’t forget to check out Bill Hass’ “Bill On Baseball” blog, where he wrote a great piece about about tonight’s game, including a description of the at bat you’ll see pictures from later in this blog entry: Zawacki wins battle, Hoppers get the sweep.
It was a great day for a game. The overnight and morning rain cooled things down enough to make it comfortable. Season ticket holders were able to get into the park early today. They didn’t have any special programs for us again, but they let us go stand by the outfield wall and try to catch balls that left the park. The wind was blowing in, so most of the balls were staying in, but I managed to get one ball that made it over.
By the time the game started, I headed over to my adopted new seats by the visitor’s dugout to enjoy the game with my friend Jonathan. We especially had a great time heckling Jim Murphy, who is sporting an awesome mustache. Before the game today, announcer Jim Scott gave a nod to the mustache by introducing him as “Jim ‘Stache’ Murphy.” Jonathan even brought his fake mustache from home to help with the heckling:
Murphy’s been having a tough time in Greensboro. He hit a double yesterday, but that’s the only hit he had in the entire series. I think he ended up being one for fourteen for the series. The only time he made it on base today was via a walk. Remember earlier when I said that Bill Hass’ blog entry describes some pictures you’ll be seeing here? Well here they are — Jim Murphy’s final swing of the evening, striking out. It’s what Bill described as pitcher Greg Nappo’s crossroads:
When the game started, I was concerned that the Hoppers wouldn’t be able to keep their winning streak up. The first Lakewood batter reached base on a single and the second batter knocked him in on a two-run homer. Fortunately, those were the only runs Lakewood scored. Offensively, the Hoppers went to work chipping away at that lead. Marcell Ozuna scored on some very smart baseball in the first inning. He tripled, and when Christian Yelich was out on a dropped third strike, Ozuna was able to run home quicker then Cameron Rupp and Jim Murphy were able to complete a 2-3-2 volley. The fact that Ozuna even attempted to score on the dropped third strike took Lakewood by surprise. They weren’t particularly hustling to get the out recorded, and I’m not sure they even knew Ozuna was running until their dugout started yelling and pointing. It’s also a testament to the great instincts Ozuna has and the fine third base coaching manager Andy Haines provides. The Hoppers’ second run came in the third when Isaac Galloway scored on an Ozuna single, after having reached base on a single himself and advancing to second via either a wild pitch or passed ball. Galloway played the hero by brining in the final two Hoppers runs on a high-over-center-field homer that also drove in Ryan Fisher. Galloway was on fire tonight: 3 at bats, 3 hits (single, double, home run), 2 runs, and 2 RBIs.
As impressive as our offensive was, once again, the game came down to pitching. Of the 11 strikeouts recorded by Greensboro’s three pitchers (Greg Nappo (W, 4-0), Brett Zawacki (H, 1), and Michael Brady (S, 16)), a full 7 of them were called third strikes looking. Our pitchers simply displayed stuff that was difficult to hit and threw pitches that Lakewood didn’t want to swing at.
Here’s some pictures of tonight’s three pitchers: Nappo, Zawicki, and Brady.
I didn’t sketch out my scorecard in time for the game today, so I kept score in the program. Here’s how I had it:
With tonight’s win, the Hoppers pull themselves even with Lakewood in the 2nd half. We’re chipping away at that playoff spot. Tomorrow starts a four game series against the Augusta GreenJackets. They’re currently doing very well and could present a stumbling block for the Hoppers. But with the momentum the team has established, and the great pitching we’ve been seeing lately, the team’s got a good shot if they can keep doing what they’re doing. We’ll see how it goes.
Remember, you can click on any of the pictures in the post to embiggen them. I’ve been playing with a new camera, so some of them don’t embiggen well since I had bad settings on it. Check out the photo album on Facebook for all the pictures. Join the conversation by leaving a comment — what are you thinking?
Tonight’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the Lakewood Blueclaws was the perfect example of what makes baseball exciting. The Hoppers struggled almost all night, falling behind from the very start, and unable to take the lead until the eighth inning. But when they took the lead, they took the lead. Going into the eighth, the Hoppers were behind 2-1. Then they scored 5 runs. The Blueclaws scored a solo home run in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough to overpower the successful rally and the Hoppers took the 2nd game in this series, 6-3. Check out the official box score and recap for the details.
The highlight of the night for me was winning the bidding on Kyle Winters‘ game-used tropical jersey!
Every year, they have “Tropical Jersey” night. The players wear special “tropical” jerseys and the team auctions them off throughout the game. This year, I had decided that I wanted to win Kyle’s jersey if I could. The bidding went right up to my limit, but in the end, I had the highest bid. I was thrilled! After the game, all the winners went on the field and the players came out and gave them the jerseys, literally off their back.
It was great to get to chat with Kyle a little more. I saw him before the game and told him I was bidding on his jersey and he wished me luck. At the end of the night, he seemed happy to see that I had won it and we had a great chat on the field.
Here’s a couple of pictures of him pitching tonight:
Since he’s newly off the DL, they only had him pitch four innings. The first inning was really rough — the first three batters reached base on singles, the first batter eventually making it home. Thankfully, the inning ended with a strikeout then a beautiful unassisted double play by Mark Canha. The first batter Kyle faced in the second inning hit the ball hard over the left field wall. I’m not sure if the ball has landed yet. After that, Kyle kept getting better. Of the remaining 11 batters he faced, he got one more strikeout, didn’t allow any more runs, only one more hit, and issued only one walk. Especially for a rehab start, I’d call it a success. I’m looking forward to seeing how his next several starts go.
The eighth inning was the exciting inning. Jay Johnson was pitching (and got changed with both a blown save and the loss) for the Blueclaws. All nine Hoppers batters got to bat. It started with Noah Perio, who singled. Marcell Ozuna struck out. Christian Yelich walked and Perio went to second. Mark Canha singled and made it to second on the throw as Perio scored and Yelich advanced to third. Wilfredo Giminez pinch hit for Aaron Dudley, singling and driving in both Yelich and Canha. Jacob Realmuto flied out. Danny Black singled and Giminez made it to third. While Ryan Fisher was at bat, Black stole second. Then, both Giminez and Black scored on a throwing error by Blueclaws catcher Cameron Rupp. It was a really funny play — Giminez had a bit of a lead off third and Rupp tried to pick him off. His throw was about three feet over the third baseman’s head and went into left field. Giminez jogged in, apparently not realizing that Black was flying behind him like a freight train. Giminez barely got out of the way for Black to touch home, just before the ball came in to try to tag him out. Fisher went on to single. The Blueclaws finally had enough of Johnson, and they replaced him with Tyler Knigge, who struck out Isaac Galloway to end the inning. The turn around was spectacular. The fans were on their feet. There was energy in the ballpark again. The top of the ninth was quick, the only excitement coming from a great home run from Bill Rice. It wasn’t enough, though, and the game ended with the Hoppers on top, 6-3. Five of those six runs came in the eighth inning. That’s how baseball works, it turns around quickly.
It was a good day for ball snagging and autographs, too. I made it out to the park early again and had a very successful day snagging balls during batting practice, ending up with an even ten. I gave a few away throughout the night. During a bit of a break in BP, I played catch with fellow snaggers Josh and Jonathan. I can’t throw worth a hill of beans, and my catching was pretty off tonight, too, but thy put up with me. We played until I had to quit because of my back pain. That worked out fine, though, ’cause BP was picking back up and there were a few more balls to be snagged.
I got Robert Morey’s autograph on one one of the BP balls before the game. You might remember Morey from the complete game shut-out he pitched a few weeks ago. I also got his autograph on his baseball card. With his autograph, that leaves me with only 3 more Hoppers players still on the roster that I don’t have autographs for. In addition to Morey’s autograph, I also got Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna on their SAL All-Star cards.
The Hoppers need to keep winning like this. We’re still five and a half games out of first for the second half title. It will be hard, but there’s still a shot of making it to the playoffs. Bill Hass describes the scenarios in his blog — go check it out: Hoppers begin crucial home stretch. Oh, look — as I was looking up that blog entry, I noticed that Bill has posted another entry about tonight’s game. Go check it out, too: Hoppers seize the moment and the game. Bill gives his own take on the beautiful eighth inning, peppered with some great insider commentary from the players and managers. If you’re not already following the Bill on Baseball blog, you need to start now.
It’s an exciting time to be a Hoppers fan.
Here’s how I had the game scored. Check out that bottom of the eighth. It’s just beautiful.
I was thrilled for the boys to be back in town after a long stretch away. I even made it out to batting practice before they had set the batting cage up.
Batting practice was great today. I got there a few minutes before my friend Jonathan arrived and snagged 2 balls. The first ball cleared the nets and bounced in the middle of Eugene Street before hitting a truck that was driving down the road. It didn’t appear to do any damage, and rolled down the block to the Greek restaurant. I jogged over to retrieve it, and another ball left the park while I was getting it. It was resting against the fence and I picked it up on the way back. It was a beautiful ball that looked barely used. Once in the park, I got Marcell Ozuna to autograph it.
After Jonathan arrived for BP, the balls kept coming out of the park. Between the two of us, we must have gone home with at least a dozen. And we got to watch a tow truck run out of gas. Each of the folks in the tow truck managed to snag a ball while waiting for gas to arrive. Lots of fun.
When I got in the park, I saw all sorts of folks I knew. Several families that I know from church were there. I also saw lots of the regular fans I tend to see at most of the games. It was a great time. I spent the time before the game working on completing my autograph collection. I added Zach Neal and Willie Glen from the Hoppers to my collection. I also got Lakewood’s Domingo Santana’s autograph on the SAL Prospect card. He accidentally signed the Jesse Biddle card I had, too. Pretty funny — so now might the Biddle card be interesting to someone as a “misprint”? Santana was very apologetic about it. I told him not to worry. It really was my fault as much as anything — I didn’t point out the card I wanted signed, and both of the Blueclaws cards I had were right next to each other.
I also got a chance to chat with my favorite pitcher, Kyle Winters, who is finally off the DL. He’s scheduled to start tomorrow, so I’m really looking forward to seeing him on the mound again.
Then it was time to settle in for the game. And what a great game it was. For the Hoppers, there were three home runs, a triple, and a double. Noah Perio hit the triple on his very first at bat and Marcell Ozuna knocked him in on a ground out. The second inning saw two home runs: Aaron Dudley and Ryan Fisher. Danny Black scored on Fisher’s home run, too, after having expertly stole second base while Fisher was batting. The third inning saw a 2-run homer by Jacob Realmuto (which won me a Red Mango gift card). Ryan Fisher scored again in the fourth inning, having reached base on a single. The fifth through seventh innings were quiet for the Hoppers offense. In the eighth, Ryan Fisher put another run on the board after having reached base on a double. With three at bats (on four plate appearances, having been walked in the fifth), Fisher was batting 1.000 — a homer, a single, and a double. He was awarded player of the game at the end of the contest. Defensively, pitcher Rhett Varner had a nice looking no-no through the first three innings, but allowed a single in the fourth to break it up. He kept them to no runs until the sixth inning, where he allowed the only two runs Lakewood scored. He was relieved by Jordan Conley for the final two innings. Conley only allowed one hit, in the ninth. The game moved very quickly (official time was 2:25), and a big part of that was the efficiency both Hoppers pitchers displayed. Conley, especially, kept the game moving at a quick pace as he retired batters and didn’t take much time between pitches.
The Hoppers are struggling in the second half of the season. It’s still possible for them to make the playoffs, but it’s going to be difficult. If they can keep playing — and winning — like they did tonight, they have a chance at making it. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Here’s how I had the game:
The best thing about tonight’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the Savannah Sand Gnats was watching Joe Bonadonna pitch. That’s right, Joe Bonadonna (who is listed on the roster as an infielder, but seems capable of playing pretty much any position on the field) took the mound in the ninth inning and managed to get out of the inning only facing three batters. Prior to pitching, he spent the game at shortstop. While he walked the first batter he faced, that batter was subsequently retired on a double play. The third batter flew out to right fielder Marcell Ozuna. Bonadonna was OK on the mound. While one of his pitches didn’t even make it to the plate, he threw several good looking knuckleballs.
Sadly, watching Bonadonna pitch was almost the only enjoyable thing about watching the Hoppers play today. I say “almost,” because Noah Perio treated us to a triple on his first at bat. That was it. Offensively, the Hoppers couldn’t get anything going, scoring only one run on four hits. The pitching from Tom Peale (giving up 6 runs on 7 hits in 3 1/3 innings), Holden Sprague (also giving up 6 runs on 7 hits in 3 1/3 innings), and Jordan Connley (giving up 1 run on 1 hit) was completely uninspired. Connley seemed so unhappy with his performance that he left the field for the clubhouse immediately after Bonadonna’s outing, with a half inning still left to play.
To add insult to injury for the fans, we had to suffer through 2 rain delays while enduring this poor performance from the team. The first rain delay, lasting about 45 minutes, occurred immediately after Peale threw his warm-up pitches in the first inning — the first batter didn’t even enter the batter’s box. The 2nd delay, lasting about 20 minutes, occurred somewhere around the 3rd inning. By that point, I was hoping for a monster storm to come through and cause the game to be called, as it was already obvious that the Hoppers were going to take a loss if the game went long enough to be official.
I didn’t get to the ballpark early enough today to get any autographs. Attendance was extremely low, but most of the regulars that I see every game were there, and I talked to just about everyone I knew. Even with the poor performance from the team and the annoying weather, the evening turned out to be enjoyable due to all the friends I got to hang out with.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got. The Hoppers take to the road. They’ll be back in town on the tenth. I hope they’re back on their game by then.
Here’s my scorecard for tonight. It’s probably full of mistakes. But I don’t really care about this one.