The Hoppers lost tonight to the Intimidators, thanks to a walk-off single in the 12th inning. Prior to that run, the game had been scoreless. Thanks to streaming audio on the internet, I listened to the game, which was a pretty tense pitchers duel. Both Greensboro and Kannapolis threatened at various points during the game, but it stayed scoreless until it didn’t. Check out the box score, game recap, and game story for the particulars of the game.
The Hickory Crawdads won their game tonight, which served to clinch the first-half pennant for the Northern Division. No matter what happens in tomorrow’s games, the Crawdads will end up with a better percentage of games won for the first half of the season and earn their playoff spot. I could protest that it’s not fair because the Crawdads didn’t play as many games as the Hoppers did since two of their rained out games could not be made up. I could protest that the Crawdads had a much easier schedule. I could protest a lot of things, but it is what it is, and the Crawdads earned their spot in the playoffs. Congratulations to them.
Now that the Hoppers have tasted what it is to be so close to a playoff spot, let’s hope they can take that enthusiasm into the second half of the season and secure their own pennant. I’ve always thought the second-half pennant is more difficult to win for a variety of reasons. As the season rolls on, it’s hotter and the games are more uncomfortable to play. The punishment the players take on the field every day all season long makes them more susceptible to injury as the season progresses. And let’s not forget roster moves. As the organization works to incorporate their newly drafted and signed players, some of them are going to find their way on the Hoppers roster. And some current Hoppers are going to find themselves either moving up or moving out to make room for the new guys.
It’s been a long time since the Hoppers have been in the playoffs. We came || <– this close to making it in based on the first-half results. Let’s rally and dominate the second half and get in those playoffs.
I hate to say it, but with the Hoppers out of contention for the first-half pennant, I may decide to stay home tomorrow. The thought of a road trip isn’t nearly as exciting when I know the game outcome won’t have any bearing on the standings. I’ll play it by ear and decide at the last minute. Either way, I’m looking forward to the boys being back in town to start the second half of the season Thursday.