Get The Brooms, The Hoppers Sweep Lakewood (8/13/2011)

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.

Before the game, I was hanging out by the tunnel and got autographs from Noah Perio and Jacob Realmuto:

Autographs: Noah Perio and Jacob Realmuto

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:

Jim "Mustache" Murphy and Jonathan's Mustache

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:

Jim "Mustache" Murphy About To Strike Out

Jim "Mustache" Murphy Striking Out

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.

Greg Nappo Pitching

Brett Zawicki pitching

Michael Brady pitching

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:

8/13/2011 Scorecard: Greensboro (4) v Lakewood (2)

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?

See ya at the ballpark!
Email: hoppersfan@gmail.com
Twitter: @HoppersFan
Facebook: www.facebook.com/HoppersFan

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