Hoppers Intimidate Intimidators (9/4/2011)

Today’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the Kannapolis Intimidators resulted in a Hoppers win (5-3), largely due to home runs by Mark Canha and Isaac Galloway. This also puts the Hoppers just a little closer to a playoff spot, or keeps them just a little farther out of being eliminated, depending on how you want to look at it. Since Hickory lost to Greenville tonight, that final playoff spot is still up for grabs between Greensboro and Kannapolis. The good news is that there are more scenarios that have Greensboro capturing the spot than there are having Kannapolis capturing it. The bad news is that it’s by no means a given that the Hoppers will take it.

Let’s see if I can boil down the scenarios correctly. Hickory is going to the playoffs since they won the first half of the season. They are also currently leading the second half of the season (by a measly half game over Kannapolis), so if they end up winning the second half, Greensboro will progress due to winning the wildcard race. Hickory needs to win tomorrow in order to win the 2nd half. If Hickory does not win tomorrow, either Greensboro or Kannapolis will win the second half, and that will be decided by whoever wins the Hoppers-Intimidators game tomorrow. Short version: Greensboro advances if either Greensboro or Hickory wins tomorrow night, Kannapolis advances if both Kannapolis wins and Hickory loses. Also, there’s a bunch of rain scheduled to start coming tomorrow. Who knows what that will do as far as games getting played, and what the baseball math will be as a result of that. I’m not even going to think about that (but I think if everything gets rained out, the Hoppers are going to the playoffs).

Obviously, the easiest way to keep from being confused is for Greensboro to go back to Kannapolis tomorrow, play a solid game, and secure a win. They can do that. They’ve already done that in three of the four games this series. It won’t be easy — Kannapolis is a great team, and I’m sure they’re going to take the field tomorrow determined to win. The good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise (literally), I’ll be down in Kannapolis again tomorrow to cheer the Hoppers on. If you can go down to help, you should — there has been a decent showing of Hoppers fans at all of the games so far, and I think the team appreciates the support.

So how did today’s game go down? For the most part, nicely. Starting for Greensboro was Alex Caldera. For Kannapolis, Matthew Heldenreich. Danny Black scored the first Hoppers run in the second inning, having reached base on a ground-rule double. He was subsequently batted in on a single by James Wooster. There were no more scoring plays on either side until the sixth inning, when the Hoppers put another two on the board. Mark Canha hit a two-run homer, driving in Marcell Ozuna, who had previously reached on a single. In the bottom of the sixth, Kannapolis left fielder Collin Kuhn scored after having reached on a double. Caldera was pitching a shutout to that point, and as soon as Kuhn scored, he was replaced by Brett Zawacki, who pitched the rest of the sixth and the complete seventh. In the top of the seventh, Isaac Galloway hit a two-run homer, bringing JT Realmuto in with him, who had reached on a single. After Galloway’s homer, Jake Wilson replaced Heldenreich on the mound and pitched the rest of the game for Kannapolis. In the bottom of the seventh, Kannapolis responded with two runs of their own: Ross Wilson and Marcus Semien. Grant Dayton replaced Zawacki for the Hoppers in the eighth and ninth, but no other runs were scored by either team.

Here’s a picture of JT Realmuto congratulating Isaac Galloway after Galloway’s homer:

JT Realmuto Congratulates Isaac Galloway

Here’s a shot of Marcell Ozuna about to hit into a fly out to left. If you look close (you might need to click on the picture to see the big version), you can see the ball whizzing towards Ozuna. It’s right at Andy’s chest.

Marcell Ozuna About To Fly Out

Without the telephoto lens I borrowed yesterday, it was harder to get good pictures of the pitching, but here’s a picture of Alex Caldera throwing it to the plate:

Alex Caldera Pitching

It was an exciting, enjoyable ballgame. Even more so with the right team ending up victorious.

Visiting Kannapolis for Hoppers games is a real treat. As I already mentioned, there were a good deal of familiar faces with other Hoppers fans who came to support the team. The ballpark is generally more quiet than the Greensboro park, and almost everyone at the game seemed to be into the game. The Kannapolis staff is very friendly, even knowing that I’m pulling for their opponents. Today was even more of a treat because Kannapolis is celebrating “Fan Appreciation Weekend,” and as part of that celebration, most of the team was out signing autographs before the game. As a result, I got eleven autographs in the Kannapolis team set:

Kannapolis Autographs

In addition to all the Intimidators autographs, I found Kyle Winters (thanks for pointing him out to me, Pete!) and got him to autograph a couple of 8.5×11 printouts of photos I took from yesterday’s game, where he got the win. I tried not to bother him too much on his “day off” in the stands, but I told him he looked great out there and he said he felt great, too. I’m psyched to add these photos to the small baseball museum I am establishing in an empty cube at my office. I’m definitely looking forward to watching Kyle’s career once he leaves the Hoppers.

Two things made scoring the game easier at Kannapolis than it is at Greensboro: 1) after every inning, the announcer recaps the runs/hits/errors/lob stats for the inning, and 2) between innings, there is still a scoreboard with the game statistics visible. Here’s how I had the game:

9/4/2011 Scorecard: Kannapolis (3) v Greensboro (5)

It’s an exciting time to be a Hoppers fan. I think this is the closest we’ve come to a playoff spot since we’ve been in the new stadium. Tomorrow’s going to be a tense day, watching the Hoppers play hard against Kannapolis and watching the scoreboard for the Hickory game. I just hope that when the sun goes down, the Hoppers are going to the playoffs.

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?

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

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4 comments

  1. catherine

    Thanks HoppersFan for your great recap of the ambiance of the game today. I was listening in the beautiful weather on my back patio. I could hear the Hoppers fans cheering for the homeruns by the “good guys”. The internet announcer kept us abreast of what it all meant to have the Hoppers win the game today–a good thing (as Martha Stewart would say). He sounded as though he believed their will be a rainout tomorrow(Monday). I will definitely be checking it out.
    Glad you had a chance to speak to Kyle, I know he was very happy with his contribution on Saturday. He is a real competitor and I know he wants to be in there whenever he can to help the team. I think we have a few more games left in the season. And, according to Josh Feldman, the Intimidators internet broadcaster, the Hoppers have not been in the play off since 1997. I mentioned it to Kyle–he was 10 years old then. I think it would be “a good thing” to get back there this year.

    Go Hoppers!!!

    • Greg

      I won’t be surprised if there’s a rainout today, but the weather *might* end up waiting until later in the afternoon to arrive. I wish I had a crystal ball and could know now — I’d hate to make the drive down to Kannapolis and not get to see any baseball. Again. 😉

      It has been a long time since we’ve been in the playoffs. ’97 sounds about right. It would definitely be “a good thing” to get in!

    • Greg

      Baseball always finds a way to be crazy! It’s going to be a tense last day of the season while everything gets sorted out. Check out the latest blog post for a link to a story in the News & Record with details on all the possible outcomes of today’s games, and what they mean for the Hoppers.

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