It’s been since Father’s Day since I’ve been able to make it out to the ballpark for a game. I had a free evening, and with last night’s game being rained out, today was a double-header for the Greensboro Grasshoppers against the Hagerstown Suns. I was pretty excited about being able to see a good amount of baseball and catch up with a handful of my ballpark friends. I rushed to the ballpark as soon as I could after work, and still only managed to get there a few innings into the first matchup. I had a great time hanging out with some of my friends. The baseball was just so-so. The Hoppers ended up losing both games in the double-header. The first game ended in a score of 2-6 (box | recap), and the second game ended in a score of 7-2 (box | recap).
On the field, one of the highlights for me was finally getting a chance to see the current most-talked-about Hopper: Colin Moran. Moran recently signed with the Marlins for $3.5 million and is currently playing third base for the Hoppers. He had a decent night. His defense was textbook. Offensively, he came away with a few sacrifice flies, a few RBIs, and a beautiful double. I think it’s going to be fun to follow his career, and I expect he’ll progress through the system at a decent pace. After the game, Moran took the time to sign autographs for everyone who was asking for one. That’s pretty classy in my book, especially after having endured losses in both games of the double-header.
Even though he was charged with the loss, I also enjoyed watching Austin Brice pitch the second game. For the first several innings, his pitching was beautiful. Fastballs for strikes, change ups making the batters looking foolish. But as the night wore on, he started losing control. He was finally pulled with one out in the fifth inning, after loading the bases. He’s definitely got potential, but he’s also got a bit of work to do.
I’m not sure when I’ll make it back out to a game, but it sure was nice to make it out tonight. I didn’t score the first game since I came in partway through, but here’s how I had the second one:
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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?
The man pictured above is what all the buzz is about tonight in Hagerstown, Maryland. This man was selected in the first round, 7th overall by the Miami Marlins. This man has an astounding ERA of .495 coming into tonight. He has already accumulated 21 strikeouts in 3 games. After tonight that average will likely go up and his “K Count” will improve to 29 strikeouts in four games. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State. He is a phenomenal addition to the Hoppers, especially around playoff time. This man is Andrew Heaney. Heaney threw for 7 innings and had 8 strikeouts tonight versus the Hagerstown Suns.
Tonight started game 1 of the Greensboro Grasshoppers return to greatness, by not only making the playoffs 2 years in a row for the first time ever, but it also is the hope and dream that we can repeat as champions. Tonight our boys looked like they could do just that! They looked like the team destined to do just that. Like I’ve said many times this year, THERE JUST IS NO QUIT IN OUR BOYS! That being said I’ll jump right into the action. Aaron “Senne in the city” went an unbelievable 3 for 3 on the night and coming across home plate for a run. The only other player to cross the plate (2) tonight, was Brent Keys, the current batting leader for the SAL LEAGUE. Brent Keys batting average is .334 on the season. Pitchers tonight as I mentioned Heaney was starter on the mound tonight he saw 28 batters and had 8 strikeouts. The Hoppers won tonight against Hagerstown by the score of 3-1. They will return to Greensboro, NC for the last two games in this best of three series. If the Hoppers win Friday they will play either the Rome Braves or the Asheville Tourist for the Championship. As always be sure to check out Bill Hass’ Bill On Baseball and click here for full recap and box score from tonights game. IN THE PLAYOFFS… THIS IS JORDAN STOWE, AND IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!
(Note: Don’t forget you can click on all players teams above to be linked to their stat pages and websites. This way you can keep up with your favorite players and teams throughout the playoffs!)
When I left the house tonight, I honestly thought the game would be rained out, maybe even a delay or two. However, not even a drop of rain fell during the three hour affair in Greensboro. The weather remained dreary and humid with an on field temperature of 86 degrees.
You could say tonights game was a GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS deal.
Good News: Rand Smith had three hits on five at bats. Two which occurred in both the eighth and ninth inning while trying to start a rally.
Bad News: With tonights loss, the Hoppers dropped to 6-13 and are currently 8 games behind the first place Hickory Crawdads
Bill Hass had the privilege of speaking to Manager Dave Berg tonight and captured Berg’s opinion in the latest Bill On Baseball entry:
“It will be a big difference,” manager David Berg said of getting players back. “The first half of the season we were healthy. I don’t know if we had a position player on the DL. The second half has not been kind to us in that regard. Now we’re adding the guys who got us to where we were.”
And with those additions back to the roster and the acquisition of Austin Nola I definitely think we’ll be back to where we were in no time at all! So with all that said, IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!
Click for box score and full recap of tonights game. As well as, all names and teams have been linked to their milb profiles so you can keep up with all your favorite players! You can also check out Bill Hass’ Official Blog by clicking here
Between all the malfunctions tonight on the field, I don’t really know where to begin. I must say I was a little disoriented not having the scoreboard up and running. I guess with all the use it got during the ACC Tournament last week, it had about all it could take. The scoreboard was off for the majority of the game. I know this had to play to Hagerstown advantage. I say that because the scoreboard went off in the third inning and the Hagerstown Suns scored 6 runs that inning. Charlie Lowell was the pitcher on the mound. Thankfully, we have an awesome PA Announcer in Jim Scott that gave us the pitching counts and so forth. However, it was distracting to the players I’m sure.
The reason for the TUMS after the 6 run inning is this… Everyone around the ballpark by now know that you truly can’t count out the Hoppers. Greensboro Baseball just has a will to win that can not be matched. In the top of the fifth, Hagerstown would score again, making it 7-0. Thats a mighty steep hill to climb to most. Good thing the Hoppers strapped on their cleats and started to climb. In the bottom of the 5th, Wilfredo Gimenez would cross the plate off of a Terrence Dayleg single. Which while I’m at it, Wilfredo had an excellent game tonight, I thought. But he would cross the plate making it 7-1. Hagerstown would then score two more in the ninth inning. Just as everyone stood to put their rally caps on, bottom of the ninth, Matt Smith gets a walk, heads to first. Next pitch, Wilfredo would single, moving Matt Smith to second. Austin Barnes would then be walked to load the bases. Up walks Ryan Goetz to the plate… GRAND SLAM HOME RUN to unload the bases!!! This would make the score 9-6 in the bottom of the ninth, Hagerstown’s favor. James Wooster steps up to the plate, line drive single causing Terrence Dayleg to score. Making it 9-7, and that would end up as the final. This game was an incredible game to be at and to proudly be able to claim to be a part of this Greensboro Baseball family.
This game tonight proves that on today, Memorial Day, soldiers fight under the same flag our boys fought back on the field tonight. And just like the many soldiers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and our very own Grasshoppers, tonight… I SALUTE YOU! And it is with that sentiment that I say it is, and always will be, a GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!
For the first time since the All-Star Break, the Greensboro Grasshoppers came to a ballgame and played some good baseball. Tonight was Game 3 in the series against the Hagerstown Suns, and the Hoppers started good and stayed good the whole game, resulting in a 5-1 victory. Check out the box score and game recap for the details.
Starting for the Hoppers tonight, and getting the win, was Zach Neal, and even though I’m mostly over the Bryce Harper Hype, I was interested in seeing if there was going to be any fallout from the famous kiss the last time these two faced each other. I was glad to see that there wasn’t. I was also glad to see that Bryce wasn’t getting nearly as many boos tonight as he was Thursday and Friday nights. He deserved them, and heckling is part of baseball, but it’s time to move on, and it seems like everyone’s moving on. Harper batted four times, and I only heard heckling during his last two at bats.
Scoring for the Hoppers was Noah Perio, Christian Yelich (three runs on two hits, including a solo home run in the 8th!), and Mark Canha. The Hoppers got their runs in the first, third, and eighth innings. Scoring for the Suns was Adrian Sanchez, in the first inning. Neither team had any errors.
Tonight, I was especially impressed with the Hoppers defense. Christian Yelich made an amazing sliding catch for a third out at one point. Several times during the game, Noah Perio extended his arms, which much be at least ten feet long, to stop grounders from getting past the infield, almost always in time to throw the ball to first for an out. Jacob Realmuto threw from home to both second (twice) and third (once) to catch runners attempting to steal, twice for the third out in the inning. After six innings, Neal was relieved by Mike Ojala, who pitched a single perfect inning. Grant Dayton relieved him to to pitch two great innings, where he faced seven batters and struck out four of them.
Tonight, the Hoppers were celebrating Christmas in June. Here’s the entertainment crew leading the crowd in “N-O-E-L” (not “Y-M-C-A”):
I got a couple of pictures of the game action, too. Here’s a shot of Jacob Realmuto at bat, followed by a shot of Grant Dayton pitching.
It was really nice to see the team win tonight. With three games played, we’re still in last place for the second half, two games out of first. But now we’re tied with the Delmarva Shorebirds and the West Virginia Power at the bottom. The Kannapolis Intimidators are alone at the top, undefeated so far. I hope the team can come off the excitement of tonight’s win and transform that into winning momentum tomorrow.
To start the day, I headed out to the ballpark early to watch batting practice through the fence, and hopefully get a few more BP Balls. As soon as I parked, I checked the bushes in the lot across the street, because I knew at least one ball went back there yesterday and I didn’t know if it was retrieved. It wasn’t, and there turned out to be a second ball in the bush, too. So I started the day with two balls to my name. Both of them looked pretty good, suitable for getting autographed. About thirty minutes later, I picked up a third ball that rolled out to the edge of the street. I was joined by my friend Josh to watch BP, who snagged 3 balls himself and gave me one of them. A little later, I gave that ball to a family who was hanging out, hoping to get a ball, but wasn’t able to get one. They had the cutest little girl with them who was hoping to get some autographs on the ball. I ran into them after the game and they told me that they managed to get several autographs. Very cool! After BP was over, I headed down to the gate to wait for it to open, and made a couple of new friends, one of whom came in his Santa hat to celebrate Christmas in June. As part of that celebration, they were giving away some really cool snow globes. I don’t have a picture of it, so just trust me that it’s cool.
The game experience was great. I took a break from my diet and indulged in a Chicago Dog from the Dog Pound. That’s definitely my second favorite ballpark concession so far this year, with my favorite being the delicious Taylor Made Kettle Corn — especially since Pat’s selling a spicy variety now. Partway during the game, @beckycdraper (who follows @HoppersFan on twitter) stopped by to introduce herself to me. That was very cool, I always enjoy making new friends at the ballpark. It’s especially neat to meet people in real life who I’ve “seen” online. So thanks a bunch, Becky, for stopping by to say “hi”! I also made some new friends in the couple who had the seats next to mine for the evening. Their names are Tom and Carol, and they were at the ballpark celebrating their 34th anniversary. I have it on good authority that they’re planning on spending another 34 years together, too. Tom mentioned that he’d love to catch a foul ball sometime, but nothing came close enough to us during the game for him to try. After the game was over, I gave Tom and Carol one of the BP Balls I had for their anniversary. They surprised me by asking me to autograph it for them. I’ve never autographed a baseball, and I felt a little weird messing up the ball with my signature, but they said they wanted it, so I obliged. If I sign any more balls, I’m going to have to think about my spacing more — I ran out of room writing “Anniversary” and I didn’t have a good place to put “Hoppers Fan” on it. Oh, well, it was my first baseball autograph (I’ve autographed books before), and I don’t expect I’ll be signing many more anyway.
I wish I had a better camera with me than my cell phone. I’d like to say that this picture is intentionally grainy and dark in order to create an “artsy” feel, but the truth is that a cell phone is simply a terrible tool to use to take pictures in the dark. Who would have thought? So I apologize for the poor quality of all the pictures in this post, especially the one of Tom and Carol.
After the game, I went down to the dugout in an attempt to get a broken bat souvenir, but was beat out by a cute kid. She’ll probably love it more than me, so I’m not disappointed. I had a chance to chat with Kyle Winters a little bit, who told me his shoulder is feeling much better and he should be on the mound again Tuesday. I had my scorebook with me, so I flipped back to his amazing one-hitter from June 13 against the West Virginia Power, and got his autograph on it. When the scanner gets back home, I’ll try to remember to scan a copy in and post it here.
The post-game fireworks were some of the best I’ve seen this year.
I’ve got another obligation tomorrow and won’t be able to be at the game, then the Hoppers hit the road again. My next planned game is July 4, which I expect will have an amazing fireworks show.
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?
It’s Friday. The Greensboro Grasshoppers are playing a home game against the Hagerstown Suns. There’s fireworks after the game. It’s a good deal all around. The game itself? Not so great. The Hoppers lost, 7-4. Check out the box score and the game recap for the details. The Suns started beating up on the Hoppers pretty early on, starting with back-to-back homers in the 2nd inning, followed by four runs in the 3rd inning. The Hoppers started a bit of a rally in the 9th, but a five-run deficit was simply too much to overcome. For a while, I thought we were going to play dodgeball instead of baseball. Our starting pitcher, Jheyson Manzueta (who is charged with the loss), hit 2 of their batters (Bryce Harper and Jason Martinson). The Suns’ starting pitcher, Taylor Jordan (who gets the win), hit 1 of our batters (Mark Canha). There were four home runs in the game (only one from the Hoppers, hit by Aaron Dudley), but I think the most exciting play of the game goes to Suns’ left fielder, Michael Taylor, who made an amazing catch, stealing at least a double and perhaps a home home run. I think his cleat marks may still be on the left field wall.
I headed out to the ballpark a little early to watch batting practice through the fence. The other guys who are usually there for BP weren’t there today, so I had the sidewalk pretty much to myself most of the time. Every now and then, someone came and stood by the fence for a little bit. A couple of other fans joined and stayed longer. We all got at least one BP Ball. (I got four.) And I had had fun chatting with the folks I met. I gave them cards with the blog address on it, so if any of them are reading this now, “hi!”
Once again, the excitement of the day was Bryce Harper. Since I snagged a few BP balls, I decided that I’d try to get him to autograph one of them before the game. I’m generally only interested in the Hoppers, but I’m starting to expand my knowledge and appreciation of other ball players on other teams. Give me a few years, and I’ll have a much better understanding of the whole league.
After getting into the park and chatting with a few friends, I headed over to the visitors dugout with my baseball and my pen to join the dozen or so other autograph-seeking fans. We ended up waiting about 15 or 20 minutes, but when he made it to the dugout, he was gracious enough to sign autographs for everyone who was there. Here’s the ball I got him to sign:
For the game, instead of sitting in my normal seat, I joined a friend who had seats available next to the visitor’s dugout, on the front row. It’s a great view of the game! I love my third-base side seats, but being right on the field was loads of fun, and gave me a chance to take some good pictures. Sadly, my only camera right now is my cell phone, so the pictures aren’t anywhere near as good as they could be.
Sitting by the visitor’s dugout also afforded me the opportunity to enjoy all the heckling that the Greensboro fans were able to scoop on the Suns, on Harper in particular. A couple of ladies even brought a sign for Harper, inviting him to “kiss this.”
For the most part, the Suns did their best to ignore the heckling. At one point, Harper did respond with a comment. The hecklers got more responses from first baseman Brett Newsome (who reached base only once in his five at-bats), who told them that they “better watch out” and wondered why they “paid money to see this.” By the end of the game, I had a much better understanding of how heckling can be an effective tool for the fans to use to get under the skin of the opposing players. Baseball’s a mental game as much as it is a physical game, and it was clear that the heckling was affecting the Suns’ players. Obviously, it didn’t affect them enough to cause them to lose the game, but I could clearly see the effect it had.
The effect was most notable after Harper’s last at-bat in the ninth, when he returned to the dugout, threw his bat on the ground and let loose a small stream of obscenities. When the Suns took the field in the bottom of the ninth, Harper was replaced by Mills Rogers (who went to left field, with Michael Taylor moving to center). Between being hit by a pitch in his first at bat and all the heckling he endured throughout the game, Harper had a rough night. His only hit of the evening was a double, though, so it wasn’t too bad for him.
And to his credit, Harper hung around the dugout a few minutes after the game and signed a few more autographs before heading to the clubhouse. My friend and I opted to get Michael Taylor’s autograph instead.
Before you think that this Hoppers Fan blog is turning into Harper-watch blog, let me get back to talking about the Hoppers a little. Besides securing a loss, nothing was truly memorable about their game. It was nice to watch Michael Brady close the game with a perfect ninth (a pop-up and two strike-outs).
I thought the view of the downtown buildings from the third base side was nice, but one of the awesome things from sitting on the first base side is the view of the sunset. My cell phone doesn’t come close to doing it justice, but check out this picture of Isaac Galloway swinging at a ball just as the sun goes down.
And a little later, after it got a little darker, James Wooster at bat:
This loss puts the Hoppers by themselves all the way at the bottom of the Northern Division standings, two games out of first. If they want a chance at the second-half playoff spot, it’s never to early to start winning.
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 do you think?