I hit the road down to Kannapolis for Game 2 against the Intimidators. This is the final series before the All-Star Break. This was my first time in Kannapolis, and I’m thrilled I went down for the game. The Hoppers won, 5-2. Check out the box score, game recap, and/or game story (from Kannapolis’ point of view) for the particulars.
Pitching for Greensboro was Zach Neal, who pitched six innings and is credited with the win. He was relieved by Grant Dayton, who pitched two innings, and Michael Brady, who pitched the ninth and got the save. Both of Kannapolis’ runs happened while Neal was on the mound, who also allowed 5 of Kannapolis’ 6 hits. Neal struck out 4, walked 1, and hit 3 batters. Dayton allowed 1 hit, 1 walk, and struck out 5. Brady’s single inning of pitching consisted of two fly outs to right fielder Marcell Ozuna and a strike out. All in all, the Hoppers looked good. They fell behind in the third, when Kannapolis scored 2 runs. In the 4th, Christian Yelich scored. No more runs scored until the 7th, when the Hoppers scored three runs: Wilfredo Giminez, Danny Black, and Noah Perio. A solo home run by Mark Canha in the 8th was the final run scored in the evening.
On the Intimidators side of the scorecard, the word of the day was “error.” As in the three errors they committed throughout the game, causing 2 of the Hoppers’ 5 runs to be unearned.
This win keeps the Hoppers in contention for the first-half pennant. Unfortunately, the Hickory Crawdads also won their game, so they still lead the Hoppers in the division by a tiny percentage of games won (.591 to Greensboro’s .589). At this point, in order for the Hoppers to win the first half, they need to win one more game than Hickory does. So Hickory still needs to lose at least one game. Of course, how Hickory performs is out of the Hoppers’ hands, so the best thing they can do is continue to win games. With just two games left in the first half, the race continues to be tight.
Enough talk about the game itself, let’s switch to the experience. As I mentioned earlier, this was my first visit to a ballgame at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium. I had previously been at the ballpark to find a geocache, but I’ve never seen a game there. It’s about an hour and a quarter drive south on I-85 from Greensboro, and the drive was enjoyable enough. The stadium itself is practically right next to the interstate, so it was easy to get there once I got off the highway.
I’m a bit spoiled being able to find free parking around the stadium in Greensboro. That’s part of the difference between a downtown stadium and a stadium off by itself. The only parking available was in the stadium lot, and it cost $2. After parking my car, this is what I stepped out to see:
Once inside the park, this is what it looked like:
As I was walking around a bit, an Intimidators employee stopped me and directed me to the gift shop. He assured me that I would be able to find a much, much nicer hat in the store than the one I was wearing (which was, of course, my Grasshoppers hat). He even offered to come in with me and help me pick one out. When I asked, he stopped just short offering to actually purchase it for me. It was a fun conversation. Everyone I encountered at the park was friendly and helpful.
For the game, I had a ticket on the front row right next to the visitor’s dugout, right behind the on deck circle. I loved it! Here’s a picture from the game of Zach Neal pitching:
The other great thing about my seat was that it was in the same section that almost all the other Hoppers fans seemed to choose to sit in. I recognized a lot of faces of the people who sit near me in Greensboro, and we all introduced ourselves to each other. Everyone was really friendly, and I look forward to continuing our friendship throughout the rest of the season. One of my new friends even insisted on buying me a soda during the second half of the game, which was especially welcome during the extended drive home. It’s funny that we sit 10 yards from each other for thirty games, and it takes running into each other on a road game to start talking. In addition to those folks, I met a father and son who also came down for the game from Greensboro. I didn’t recognize them from Greensboro, but that’s probably because they spend most of their time in Greensboro on Natty’s Hill and/or the seats near the bullpen. Again, loads of fun meeting them and I look forward to seeing them at future games downtown.
So, if you go to a Hoppers game in Kannapolis, apparently the section to be in is 107. That’s where I’ll be whenever I head back.
I also snapped a pretty cool picture of the final pitch the Hoopers took in the 9th. Isaac Galloway striking out (swinging), with Noah Perio on deck. See how cool the view from these seats are? It’s like I’m right on the field.
I could also tell that the players appreciated having Hoppers fans at the park cheering them on. Several of them nodded in appreciation when they were in the on deck circle.
The drive back home took an extra 45 minutes because of road work on I-85N. That was unexpected, and unwelcome.
The whole experience was great — going to see my favorite team play an away game is really cool. I thought the same thing when I went to Charleston to see the Hoppers play the Riverdogs last year.
My wife went to school for a few weeks, and she took the small camera and the printer/scanner. I seem to have misplaced the DSLR, ’cause it hasn’t turned up yet. As a result, all the pictures from this game come courtesy of my iPhone and I couldn’t scan in a copy of my scorecard. So here’s a photograph instead:
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.