Tagged: grant dayton

“Heart Attack Hoppers” Do It Again (9/12/2011)

After tonight’s nail-biting win, one of my friends exclaimed “The ‘Heart Attack Hoppers’ do it again!” He was right on the money.

Tonight’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the Savannah Sand Gnats was the first game of the SAL Championship Series. It had it all. Home runs? Check. Balk? Check. Strategic substitutions? Check. Walk-off homer that was called foul? Check. Manager ejection? Check. Walk-off double two batters later? Check. With two outs, Marcell Ozuna was robbed of what would have been a 2-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth. Then he made it to base on a walk. Then the pitcher balked. Christian Yelich walked to load the bases. Two outs, bases loaded, Mark Canha hit a perfect double towards center field. Danny Black scores to tie and Marcell Ozuna scores to win. It was tense, the fans were upset at the umps. Everyone was cheering for the Hoppers, and when things were tight, the Hoppers did what the Hoppers do. They delivered. They kept the game exciting right to the very end. And they tried to give fans heart attacks while they were working their way to the win. I’ve been saying it a lot lately, but it’s true: it’s a good time to be a Hoppers fan.

Check out the official box score and game recap for all the details. Savannah has also posted a game story. Check out Bill on Baseball for a great post, too: Hoppers come to expect late-inning heroics, with quotes from several of the players and Andy.

Starting tonight for the Hoppers was Kyle Winters. As regular readers of this blog know, he’s my favorite Hoppers pitcher. That’s why I especially hate to say that he had a rough night tonight. It wasn’t bad, but it was poised to turn bad at any moment. I was nervous from the beginning, when the Sand Gnats managed to load the bases with only one out on the board. Fortunately, a popup to third and a fly to right ended the inning. In the second inning, Winters game up a double to the first batter he faced, who was subsequently driven in by a sacrifice fly. In the third inning, one of the Savannah batters hit a home run, as did a Sand Gnat in the fourth inning. After facing three batters in the fifth, Winters was pulled with runners on second and third. Taking the mound in his place was Alex Caldera. Caldera pitched 2.2 innings of no-hit, one walk baseball, picking up three Ks along the way. In the top of the 8th, Caldera was replaced by Grant Dayton, who pitched both the eighth and the ninth. Dayton gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, as well as two doubles. He also notched up three Ks and was the pitcher of record when the winning run scored, so he gets credited with the win. This was another great example of the Hoppers bullpen really performing solidly for the team.

Here’s what I thought was a cool picture of Ryan Fisher. I think he was swinging and missing in this shot.

Offensively, the Hoppers impressive from the beginning, then mostly lacking until the very end. Noah Perio started the first inning with a double to right field. On the first pitch he saw, Marcell Ozuna hit a home run, bringing the score 2-0, Hoppers. The Sand Gnats chipped away at that lead, scoring a run in each of the second, third, and fourth innings. The Hoppers tied the score at 3 in the fifth inning when Ryan Fisher hit a solo home run to right that left the park with such force that I think it sailed over the Mariott and all the way to Alamance County before landing. There were no more scoring plays until the Savannah home run in the eighth put them ahead 4-3. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Aaron Dudley replaced Wilfredo Giminez as a pinch-hitter. Immediately, the Sand Gnats responded by replacing their pitcher to create what they believed would be a better pitcher-hitter matchup. Their new pitcher walked Dudley, who was then replaced by Joe Bonadonna as a pinch runner on first. At this point, the bases were loaded and the Hoppers were poised to take advantage of the situation when Ryan Fisher came to bat, but he ended the inning by striking out. The ninth was the crucial inning for the Hoppers. The Sand Gnats got a runner as far as second, but did not score. The bottom of the ninth kept everyone on the edge of their seats. Isaac Galloway reached first on a walk, but was put out on a fielder’s choice when Danny Black bunted. Noah Perio struck out. With two outs on the board, Marcell Ozuna hit a home run to left field that was just fair of the foul pole, but the umpire ruled it foul. This caused Andy Haines to engage in impassioned debate with the umpire about the call, eventually getting ejected. As he left the field, he got Marcell’s attention and yelled at him to do it again. Instead of doing it again, Marcell walked. With runners on first and second and Christian Yelich at the plate, the pitcher balked. With first base now open but runners on the other bags, the pitcher walked (probably intentionally, but they were playing it close) Yelich. With the bases loaded and Mark Canha stepping up to the plate, the Sand Gnats made one final pitching change. It turned out to be a mistake, because Canha hit a solid double to center field. Black scored to tie. Ozuna scored to win. The Hoppers dugout exploded for the second time (it also emptied when Ozuna hit the ball that was called foul).

Here’s what Ozuna looked like hitting the home run he was robbed of:

Cahna got an ice water shower. Then he got a shaving cream pie in the face. The fans loved it. The team loved it.

This puts Greensboro in a great advantage going into the rest of the series. This series is best of five, and it’s great for the Hoppers to already have a one game lead. The next game will be played tomorrow night in Greensboro. Then, the teams go to Savannah to play on Thursday, and if necessary, Friday and Saturday. Personally, I’m hoping for a sweep. It’s been a long time since Greensboro has brought home the SAL title. This might be the year for it to happen.

Here’s how I had the game. Full of excitement, especially at the end..

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


Playoff Magic, Game 1 Is A Win

“This is a magical game.”

That’s what one of my new Hoppers friends said sometime around the 13th inning of tonight’s 15-inning Greensboro Grasshoppers playoff game against the Hickory Crawdads. The game ended with a walk-off two-run homer hit by Christian Yelich. It’s a huge win for the Hoppers, who now only need one more win to take the best-of-three series, claim the division championship, and head to the league championship.

Celebration At The Plate

Going into the game, I was talking with the guys who hang out on Eugene Street during batting practice and I predicted that the game tonight could go pretty much any way: a complete blowout on either side, or an incredibly close and tense game. I was leaning towards close and tense, and that’s exactly what we got. Check out the official box score and game recap for all the details, but here’s how it went down for the Hoppers.

Starting for Greensboro was Rhett Varner. The game was scoreless through four innings. In the top of the fifth, Hickory scored a run. After six innings, Brett Zawacki replaced Varner on the mound. Greensboro did not score a run until the eighth inning, when Marcell Ozuna hit a solo home run. Grant Dayton took the mound for the Hoppers in the ninth. The score remained tied at 1-1 through the ninth inning. It was a tense game the whole time. Things got even more tense in the tenth. Michael Brady took the mound for the Hoppers, and the second batter he faced hit a solo home run, bringing the score 2-1 in favor of Hickory. When the Hoppers took the plate in the bottom of the tenth, they needed a run to stay in the game. And that’s exactly what they got from Danny Black, who walked, advanced to second on a beautiful sacrifice bunt by Isaac Galloway, advanced to third on a 6-3 groundout by Noah Perio, and made it home on a Marcell Ozuna single. Unfortunately, Christian Yelich flew out, ending the inning with the score tied 2-2. The eleventh and twelfth were scoreless. Jordan Conley replaced Brady on the mound in the twelfth. The thirteenth inning was the most tense of the game. The first batter reached on a double. The second batter walked. The third batter laid down a nice sacrifice bunt, advancing the base runners to second and third. Conley intentionally walked the next batter, loading the bases. At this point, Conley was replaced by Mike Ojala, who pitched the rest of the game and is credited with the win. Ojala struck out the first batter he faced, which put two outs on the board. The next batter singled, driving in one (and thank goodness only one) run. Finally, the last batter grounded into a 4-3 out. The Hoppers were both lucky and skillful in getting out of that situation with only one run scored. With the score now 3-2 in favor of Hickory, the Hoppers once again found themselves in need of a run to stay in the game. And once again, they found it. This time it came when Marcell Ozuna singled, and was then driven in by a Christian Yelich double. There were no other runs, so we left the thirteenth inning with the score tied at 3. This was particularly disappointing, as the Hoppers stranded three runners. We were hoping for either a walk-off grand slam or a walk-off walk to end the game, but our wish was not granted. There were no scoring plays in the fourteenth inning. In the fifteenth, Hickory scored another run via a homer, putting the score 4-3. Once again, the Hoppers found themselves in need of a run in order to stay alive. Things were looking good for the Hoppers, with the middle of the lineup scheduled to bat. Marcell Ozuna reached first after being hit (slightly grazed, it appeared to me) by a pitch. Then Christian Yelich drove him in on a two-run walk-off homer that was simply a bomb. The stadium exploded. The Hoppers cleared the dugout to welcome Ozuna and Yelich home. The fans went wild. It really was magical.

As always, Bill on Baseball has a great recap, including quotes from the players and manger: Hoppers’ flair for drama continues.

So, now Greensboro is in the playoffs for the first time since 1999. They’re facing tough competition, and they’re coming through. They’re not making it through easily, though. A fifteen inning game is tough on the team. I wonder how the bullpen is holding up. Fortunately, tomorrow is an off day so the team can rest before heading to Hickory for Friday, and if necessary, Saturday. With a best-of-three series like this, it is vitally important to get the first game so that your opponent is playing “catch up.”

Another fun note from the game. One of the advertising tie-ins is with Taylor Made Kettle Corn, which is unquestionably the best value concession at the ballpark. When the Hoppers catch a high fly ball, they call it a “Taylor Made Can Of Corn.” The first time they did that tonight, I held up my bag of kettle corn high above my head, which must have caught Jim Scott’s attention, as he announced on the PA that I was holding it up. It was funny to hear my name come through the PA at the park — thanks, Jim. And I’m glad to help share the love of kettle corn to all the baseball fans. I usually buy an extra bag to take home from the game.

My seat was right behind the Hoppers’ on-deck circle and I got a few decent pictures of the batters as they were warming up. Here are a couple of Marcell Ozuna that I’m particularly fond of.

Marcell Ozuna On Deck

Marcell Ozuna On Deck

I’ll be heading to Hickory after work Friday for the game. I’ll be pulling for the Hoppers to shut Hickory down and take the series early. If they do win the division championship, two of the league championship games will be played in Greensboro next week.

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

Hoppers Are Playoff Bound!

Today’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the Kannapolis Intimidators might have given me an ulcer. OK, not really, but boy did it have me nervous.

The Hoppers were victorious, 9-6. But it took them 10 innings to claim victory, creating a lot of stress and tension among the sizable group of Hoppers fans who were in attendance. You’re free to check out the official box score, game recap, or game story (Kannapolis version or Greensboro version), but none of that conveys the level of tension that was in the ballpark in the eighth inning. Take a look at my scorecard (pictured at the end of this post) to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

The day started out well enough. I was keeping an eye on the weather map to decide if I should make the trip down or not. Reports from Kannapolis indicated it was warm and sunny, so at about 10:30, I jumped in the truck and headed down the road. It was a nice drive, the roads were clear, and the sun was out. I got to the ballpark and immediately saw a couple of my friends from Greensboro. We got inside the park and ran into more people that we knew. It wasn’t long before most of the Hoppers fans found each other and settled into our seats, mostly around the visitor’s dugout.

The game started, and the Hoppers scored two runs in the first inning. Noah Perio had reached on a single and was subsequently driven in when Christian Yelich hit a home run. The Intimidators went three up, three down in the first. In the second, the Hoppers scored two more runs. Wilfredo Giminez doubled and was subsequently driven in when Isaac Galloway doubled. Galloway was driven in when Ryan Fisher doubled. It was like we were having a doubling party, but the Intimidators broke it up by joining with a double play, closing out the half-inning. In the bottom of the second, the Intimidators scored one run. In the top of the third, Marcell Ozuna scored a solo homer. His was the only run on either side in the third. In the fourth, both the Hoppers and the Intimidators went three up, three down. In the In the fifth, the Hoppers were scoreless but the Intimidators scored another run. In the sixth, Danny Black scored for the Hoppers, having reached base on a walk and scoring from first on a double by Wilfredo Giminez. There were no other scoring plays until the bottom of the eighth.

And that’s when the Hoppers fans started getting nervous.

Before talking about the eighth, let’s look at a picture of Christian Yelich coming home after his home run in the first. That’ll put us in a good mood for the nervousness that’s about to ensue.

Yelich Homer

Going into the bottom of the eighth, the Hoppers had the lead, with the score 6-2. Robert Morey had pitched very well, and after seven innings of work, was relieved by Grant Dayton. Dayton faced five batters. The first flew out to right. The second reached on a double. The third walked. The fourth walked. With the bases loaded, Dayton walked the fifth batter he faced, and a run scored. With the bases still loaded, Dayton was replaced by Chris Shafer. This is aways a tough spot for a pitcher: to inherit a situation where the bases are loaded. Shafer struck out the first batter he faced, but the second batter he faced singled and two more runs scored. Shafer was replaced by Michael Brady, who struck out the only batter he faced in the eighth.

Three pitchers. Three runs. The comfortable lead the Hoppers had maintained throughout the entire game was eliminated. They still maintained a lead, but it was only one run, with the score 6-5.

And now it was raining. It kept raining ’til the end of the game and my entire drive back to Greensboro.

In the ninth, the Hoppers went three up, three down. One run behind, all the Hoppers fans were tense. The Intimidators were about to send the heart of their lineup to the plate. The first batter struck out. *wshew* The second batter grounded out. *wshew* One out was all that was between the Hoppers and a playoff spot. The next batter reached on a single. That’s OK. The next batter reached on a double good enough to push the baserunner in. Great, now the game is tied with the winning run in scoring position. Fortunately, the next batter flew out to center field. Inning over, but now it’s a tie ballgame.

In the tenth, the Hoppers do what they’ve done time and time again the past several weeks whenever they find themselves in a tough spot. They dug in, and they delivered. Ryan Fisher grounded out. Noah Perio doubled. Marcell Ozuna singled and advanced to second on the throw while Perio scored. The Intimidators intentionally walked Christian Yelich. I guess his home run in the first inning scared them. Mark Canha flied out to center. JT Realmuto doubled, driving in both Ozuna and Yelich. Finally, Danny Black grounded out. Three big runs for the Hoppers, when they really needed it. In the bottom of the tenth, Jordan Conley replaced Brady. The first batter he faced singled, but the next three struck out.

The game was over.

The Hoppers won.

The Hoppers won!

The Hoppers made it to the playoffs! With this win and Hickory‘s loss today, the Hoppers were tied with Hickory for the second half title. But since Hickory was already in the playoffs, the tiebreaker went to Greensboro. It was a great win, and the Hoppers did it all by themselves. They didn’t end up needing some other team to win or lose in order for them to make it in, they controlled their own destiny right to the end. This has especially been an amazing second half of the season — they’ve won 21 of their last 28 games, 11 of their last 12. This is the first time Greensboro has been to the playoffs since 1999.

The playoff game in Greensboro is Wednesday. Then, in Hickory on Friday. If necessary, a third game will be played in Hickory on Saturday. I’m planning on going to every game in the series. Initially, there was some confusion about when the first game would be played, but Bill on Baseball cleared it all up: Home playoff game Wednesday.

It’s definitely an exciting time to be a Hoppers fan!

Here’s how I had today’s game. You can just see the tension in the bottom of the eighth.

9/5/2011 Scorecard: Kannapolis (6) v Greensboro (9)

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

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

Hoppers Extend Their Winning Streak (8/14/2011)

Yesterday’s Greensboro Grasshoppers win against the Augusta GreenJackets extends the Hoppers winning streak to six wins and inches the team that much closer to being in contention for a playoff spot at the end of the season. Check out the box score and game recap for all the official details.

Sunday afternoon day games mean no batting practice on the field, but I showed up early anyway to see what was going on. Several players from both teams were stretching and throwing, and if you look closely in the following picture, you can see the team chaplains from Baseball Chapel leading chapel service in the home team dugout. They’re the guys in the light blue shirts:

Pre-game Warmup

While waiting for the gates to open, I ran into the bus driver for the GreenJackets. Turns out he used to drive the bus for Greensboro, too. While I was chatting with him, we were joined by my buddies Patrick and his son Eli, who occasionally contributes photos for the blog here. The bus driver was telling us about the team’s trip down here from Lexington, riding with storms the whole time. They ended up getting into town about five in the morning. I joked that I hoped that meant they weren’t well-rested and our team would be able to take advantage of that. As it turns out, maybe that did play into our getting the win.

So how did the game go? In a word, weird. I don’t want to steal Bill Hass’ thunder from his latest blog post since you should be reading his blog, too, so here are the highlights he noted: an outfielder lost a glove attempting to catch a home run, four strikeouts in one inning, tripping for a balk, and turning a blown save into a win. Read all the details for that weirdness and more in his latest blog entry: Just stick it in the W column. And check out my scorecard below to see how the four strikeout inning went down.

I was worried about the game being a difficult one for several reasons. The Hoppers haven’t played against the GreenJackets yet this season and really didn’t know what to expect. (The Hoppers and GreenJackets are in different divisions in the league and don’t meet each other as much as teams in the same league do.) Looking at their stats, I knew the GreenJackets are good. They are very much in contention for the second half title in their division. The Hoppers were hot against Lakewood, but I wasn’t sure it was going to last. In our favor, we were starting Robert Morey, who threw a complete game shutout earlier in the season. The GreenJackets starting pitcher was one of their best, so I was ready for a tense pitcher’s dual to unfold. Instead, I saw six home runs (three on each side of the scorecard). Morey pitched for five and a third innings and was winning when he left the mound. He was replaced by Kenneth Toves, who only pitched for the final two-thirds of the sixth inning. In those two outs, he managed to blow the save on his first pitch when the GreenJackets batter homered off of him, tying the score at five. The Hoppers responded in the bottom of the sixth with four runs of their own, and even though Miguel Mejia took the mound in the seventh, since Toves was the pitcher of record when the Hoppers scored all those runs, he gets credited with the win. Mejia pitched for an inning and a third, being replaced by Grant Dayton in the eighth, who picked up the save. A dropped third strike in the ninth where the runner got on base allowed the weirdness that had Dayton record four strikeouts in that inning.

Want to see Robert Morey pitching? I thought you did:

Robert Morey Pitching

Robert Morey Pitching

Offensively, I saw the most beautiful bunt I’ve ever seen. In the sixth, with runners on first and second, Ryan Fisher laid down a bunt that slowly trickled down the third baseline, going slow enough to become obvious that it wasn’t going to roll foul. The third baseman sprinted to the ball, but wasn’t able to get it in enough time to make the throw to first. Instead of sacrificing, like the intent was, Fisher found himself with a hit that put him on first and loaded the bases. All three of those base runners ended up scoring: Christian Yelich and Mark Canha when Danny Black singled two batters later, and Fisher when James Wooster singled after Black. The bottom of the sixth inning infused exactly the energy the Hoppers needed to finish strong. The GreenJackets managed one more run in the eighth. I completely blame that run on the Hoppers pitching. The batter singled, but advanced to second on a wild pitch, third on a balk, and home on another wild pitch. But it wasn’t enough to rally the GreenJackets to a win, and the Hoppers went back to the locker room victorious for the sixth straight game.

Want to see what it looks like when James Wooster hits an RBI single? I thought you did. I put my camera on “continuous mode” and snapped this series of pictures when he singled in the sixth.

James Wooster's RBI Single

Here’s how I had the game scored. Especially check out the top of the ninth, with the four strikeouts:

8/14/2011 Scorecard: Greensboro (9) v Augusta (6)

As has been my custom lately, as soon as I got in the park, I headed over to the third base tunnel (pictured above) to hang out for autographs. It was a successful venture, as I was able to get both GreenJackets players who are featured in the SAL All-Star pack to sign their cards. I also picked up Cody Clark’s autograph. He’s the strength and conditioning coach for the Hoppers. Additionally, I got Steve Kline to autograph a baseball. Kline is a former major-league relief pitcher and is now working as the pitching coach for the GreenJackets. Here are the autographs I got, including hitting coach Kevin Randall’s, whose autograph I got the previous day.

Autographs: Kevin Randall, Cody Clark, Seth Rosin, and Rafael Rodriguez

Steve Kline Autograph

It was a great game, and one thing made it even more thrilling for me. Earlier in the week, I received a nice email from Bill Hass thanking me for linking to his blog. He mentioned that he’d try to give me a shout out on the radio when he was in the booth with Andy Durham on Sunday’s game. I had been listening to the radio broadcast off and on during the game, but that’s pretty hard to do at the ballpark, especially when all my awesome friends kept dropping by to say “hi” and watch some of the game with me. So I didn’t hear a shout-out during the game, but as soon as I got in my car and was listening to the post-game broadcast, they started talking about both Bill’s blog and my blog. It was really, really, really cool to hear them tell their listeners to go check out “Greg Cohoon’s Hoppers Fan blog” as well as the “Bill on Baseball” blog. I’ve gotten to know a bunch of people at the park over the past couple of years, but I’m not officially associated with the team. This is just a fan blog, written by an obsessed fan. To be mentioned alongside Bill Hass’ official Hoppers blog is quite an honor and I really appreciate it. Thanks, guys!

So, seriously, if you’re not already reading Bill on Baseball as well as my blog, what is the matter with you? 😉

With the way things are going, the end of the season is going to look interesting for several teams jockeying for a playoff spot. At this point, the best thing for the Hoppers to do is keep winning and see where everything else falls out. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

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

Hoppers Hit Two Homers For The Win (8/12/2011)

Standings as of 8/13/2011

Last night’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the Lakewood Blueclaws was another great success. Although the Blueclaws outhit the Hoppers 6-3, two of those Hoppers hits were solo homers, and the only runs of the game. Final score: 2-0 Hoppers. Check out the official box score and game recap for the official details. We’re still five and a half games out of first, but these wins against Lakewood have closed the gap some. That graphic to the right came from the official Hoppers website and shows exactly what the Hoppers need to overcome in order to get on top. A win against Lakewood tonight (if there’s a game, it’s currently raining pretty steadily) will bring us even with Lakewood, and one step closer to the top.

The day started out pretty slow. I got to BP about the same time my friend Jonathan did, and we noticed that the wind was blowing into the park. We figured that would keep most of the balls inside. A couple of minutes later, Kenyon and Josh joined us and the three of them headed across the street for a game of catch while I watched BP from the fence. Our theory about it being a slow day for BP balls turned out to be right, as only three left the park. We gave two away to a couple of kids who had come to watch through the fence, too, standing on their bikes in order to see over the outfield wall. They were very appreciative and seemed thrilled to be able to go home with a souvenir. Another reason it was a light day for BP balls is that the Blueclaws didn’t even take BP. The Hoppers started later than usual, and I guess there simply wasn’t enough time for Lakewood to have a turn. Or maybe that was the plan from the beginning. With BP over and a few minutes before the gates were going to be open, we all just kinda wandered around doing our own thing.

Shortly before the gates opened up, the sky opened up and it started raining. Hard. Most everyone took shelter under the concourse on Bellemeade street. When the gates opened, it was still raining, and the tarp was on the field:

Raining Hard, Tarp On The Field

There was plenty of room to stay dry inside the park and everyone seemed to know that the storm would pass quickly enough and we’d get a game on. In the mean time, pitcher Miguel Mejia was at the autograph table signing autographs. I got his signature on a ball:

Miguel Mejia Autograph

Sure enough, the rain soon ended, the tarp was removed, and the field became playable. The game started after about an hour delay, and moved very quickly — total time was 2:11. For the Hoppers, Alex Caldera made the start (and got the win). He pitched 7 innings, gave up 5 hits, and issued 1 walk. He was replaced by Grant Dayton in the 8th, who pitched 2 innings, gave up 1 hit, didn’t issue any walks, and picked up the save. The word of the day for pitching was “strikeout,” as Caldera recorded 9 and Dayton recorded 3. They were about to run out of places in the K-Zone to hang the Ks. Offensively, the Hoppers didn’t look spectacular, but they certainly got the job done. The only Hoppers hits came from Marcell Oznua (who homered in the first), Danny Black (who singled in the fifth), and Jacob Realmuto (who homered in the seventh). If 2/3 of the hits are going to be homers, I’m not going to complain.

Bill Hass has written a great blog entry about Caldera’s start, describing the history of how Caldera came to be pitching for the Hoppers and including some quotes from both Caldera and manager Andy Haines about the seven-inning shutout performance. Be sure to check it out: Caldera makes most of fresh start.

It was a great game, and like I said in my last entry, it’s a great time to be a Hoppers fan.

I took more pictures, but neglected to dump them from the camera before my wife took the camera to a youth retreat this weekend. So the pictures I do have are from my phone. Oops. Poor planning on my part. I should have the rest of the pictures Monday.

Here’s how I had the game. With the threat of rain being what it was, I almost didn’t score it. But it turned out to be a great night for a ballgame and a great night to score it.

8/12/2011 Scorecard: Grasshoppers (2) v Blueclaws (0)

Tonight is the last of the season ticket holder Saturday events where they let us into the park an hour early. We’ll see how that works out with the steady rain we’ve been getting so far this morning. It’s still 9 hours until game time, so it can definitely get dry by then.

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

Grant Dayton Hamming It Up

Grant Dayton Hamming It Up

I’m pleased to introduce the newest member of the Hoppers Fan photography staff: Eli. Eli is five years old and is a regular attender at the ballpark with his dad, Patrick. A few games ago, he captured the following gem of Grant Dayton and Chris Shafer.

Grant Dayton Hamming It Up

Grant Dayton hamming it up. Chris Shafer is not amused. (Photo Credit: Eli)

Patrick was showing me some of the pictures Eli’s taken over the season and he seems to be able to get the players to ham it up some for the camera. I’m thrilled to have permission to share this picture with everyone. Hopefully, Eli will get a few more good shots before the season is over that we can share here on the blog.

If you have any cool pictures related to the Grasshoppers that you wouldn’t mind sharing on the blog, drop me a email and we’ll see what we can do. Remember, you can click on the picture in the post to embiggen it. 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