Congratulations To The 2012 SAL Northern Division Champions!

Howdy, Hoppers fans! Greg here. Yes, I’ve been away from the blog for most of the season, but I’m back tonight while Jordan was covering high school football. Once again, I’d like to extend a huge than-you to Jordan for keeping the blog going this season while I’ve been busy with a new job, in a new town, and a new baby. I only made it out to 2 or 3 games this year, but I sure enjoyed reading about the season from the blogs and pictures that Jordan posted throughout the season. THANK YOU, Jordan!

This was the scene at the end of tonight’s game:

Why are the players dousing themselves in champagne? Because the Greensboro Grasshoppers beat the Hagerstown Suns by a score of 7-5, and in so doing, they became the 2012 SAL NORTHERN DIVISION CHAMPIONS! Now they will move on to defend last year’s SAL Championship and look to bring home the prize two years in a row. I especially like how, in this photo, team owner Donald Moore is simply standing just outside of the celebration and watching.

The game started out in what I’d describe as a bit of a pitcher’s duel. Things remained scoreless until the bottom of the third, when the Hoppers just started tearing everything up. Ryan Rieger walked and advanced to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt from Austin Nola. Then Wilfredo Giminez hit a monster homer to Natty’s hill, bringing in 2 runs. Next up, Ryan Goetz, who doubles. He’s followed by Austin Barnes, who homers, brining in two more runs. No one else would score that inning, but it energized the crowd, and put Greensboro in a solid position. Pitcher Jake Esch was throwing a no hitter, pretty much 3 up, 3 down. I wad exited, feeling good.

Check out Austin Barnes coming to the plate after hitting his home run:

Then we made it to the fifth inning.

Check out the official recap for the details, but the short version is that Hagerstown scored 4 runs of their own while the Greensboro defense fell apart. Esch was replaced by Brad Mincey to get the final out of the inning and stop the bleeding. I was starting to get worried about the Hoppers’ ability to secure the win. But they responded with 2 runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth: Ryan Goetz and Brent Keys each made it across the plate. The Hoppers never lost the lead again — 2 scoreless innings, then each team scored a run in the eighth (Ryan Goetz made it home on a beautiful sacrifice fly from Austin Barnes). Hagerstown was unable to score in the ninth, and the game was over.

As always, the Hoppers put on great between-inning entertainment. Tonight’s mascot race featured young Hoppers Fan photo corespondent Eli racing Guilford around the bases. Here’s Eli breaking the finish tape (you might want to click the picture to see the bigger version…):

It was really exciting to be at the park for the Hoppers to sweep the Suns. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it out to any of the league playoff games, but I’m going to try!

For more insight in tonight’s game, check out Bill on Baseball: “I’ll take our chances with anybody.” Bill talked with a lot of people after the game and got a lot of great quotes.

Good luck, Hoppers! Let’s see if you can bring home another trophy this year!

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!
Twitter: @HoppersFan


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