Tagged: marcell ozuna

A Familiar Sight Due To Unfamiliar Circumstances

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Hickory Crawdads Stadium Opening Day

The image above is what is becoming a familiar sight on Opening Day for the Greensboro Grasshoppers.  Since their inaugural season, 2005, the Hoppers have sent their starting pitcher to the mound 4 times to open the season.  In 8 seasons, they are 4-4 of starting the season on Opening Day. That being said it is not uncommon around these parts to have a delay  or postponement opening day.  What is uncommon, in fact unprecedented, is being cancelled due to snow and sleet.

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Scott Lyman, RHP

Today’s game in Hickory was set to be a great matchup.  Scott Lyman, returning for his second year in Greensboro, was set to take the mound.  This right hander will start out the season to improve on his 3 game win record and 6 losses.  He threw 62 strikeouts out of 74 innings pitched.  I’m very interested to see what kind of heat he can throw this year.

I’ll be armed with my camera and scorecards this season, to bring you all the latest action, scores, and fan highlights from each game.  Greg, I believe, will be joining me this year a bit more, and WOOT WOO IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!!!

-jordan

And for those of you wondering where your favorite Hoppers are… Here’s the list as of today.

Jose Fernandez– MIAMI MARLINS, Brent KeysGSO Grasshoppers, Tony CaldwellGSO Grasshoppers, Collin Cargill– Jupiter Hammerheads, Jose Urena– Jupiter Hammerheads, Wilfredo Gimenez– Jupiter Hammerheads, Noah Perio– Jupiter Hammerheads, Ryan Fisher– Jupiter Hammerheads, Austin Barnes–Jupiter Hammerheads, Josh Adams– Jupiter Hammerheads, Austin Nola– Jupiter Hammerheads, Matt Smith– Jupiter Hammerheads, Ryan Reiger– Jupiter Hammerheads, Ryan Goetz– Jupiter Hammerheads, Isaac Galloway– Jupiter Hammerheads, Aaron Senne “In the City”– Jupiter Hammerheads, Adam Conley– Jacksonville Suns, Marcell Ozuna– Jacksonville Suns, Danny Black– Jacksonville Suns, Rand Smith– Batavia Muckdogs

Don’t forget to click on your favorite player to link up to see the latest news, stats, and more!  If your favorite player is not listed please leave a comment and I’ll be sure to locate that player for you.  Thanks!

Photo Credits: Josh Royster (top photo of Hickory Crawdads Stadium) and UCDavis University Athletics (Bottom: Scott Lyman Photo)

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Where Are Your Favorite Players Heading?

JOSE FERNANDEZ'S JOURNEY FROMCUBA TO BEING THE NO. 1 DRAFT PICKJose Fernandez

Many of you remember Jose Fernandez as the guy that showed up from Cuba to sling fastballs at the upwards of 100 mph.  Jose also holds the distinction of providing the SAL League with their first no hitter of the season.  And first ever in Greensboro’s history.  You may also remember him from earlier in Spring Training he slung a 101mph fastball at Giancarlo Stanton’s helmet.  Stanton was treated and later returned to swing another day.  Jose is the number one prospect for the Miami Marlins Organization and was expected to start the 2013 season with the Marlins.  He was sent down to the Minors Camp March 13.  He is expected to start for the Jacksonville Suns.

“He was impressive,” manager Mike Redmond said. “He was exactly how everybody described him. Everybody said that I’d be impressed, and I was impressed with everything — the way he handled himself, the way he pitched, his command, his presence. His mound presence is great. You can tell he’s a competitor. He wants it. And that’s what you want. Those are the type of guys you want in the organization. His day will come.”

“I’m 20 years old,” Fernandez said. “I just can’t be upset. I pitched six innings, didn’t give up a run. I knew, I was going to get sent down, I was ready for it. … They told me, ‘Hopefully this is the last time.'”

882012_10151522490122349_1793835801_oChristian Yelich

The Marlins on Friday reassigned top prospect Christian Yelich to Minor League camp and told the outfielder that he will open the season at Double-A Jacksonville.  Yelich, who ranked 13th on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospect List, was Miami’s feel-good story of Spring Training. The left-handed-hitting outfielder, the organization’s first-round pick in 2010, was arguably the team’s best player since camp started — batting .364 with a .451 on-base percentage and a .818 slugging percentage. Many of you remember Yelich as the player that hit the 2 run walk off to win the Championship Series at home against the Hickory Crawdads sending us to Savannah to face the Sand Gnats in the finals.  We would win the coveted SAL League Championship four nights later.  Christian will be one to watch for years to come.  He is expected to do great things!  I am really glad I got the privilege of seeing him, among others play in Greensboro, all season long.
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Below is a list to start with:
Kyle Skipworth- Miami Marlins  (Made opening day roster!!!)
Marcell Ozuna- Jacksonville Suns
Chris Coghlan- Miami Marlins (Made Opening Day roster!!!)
Kyle Jensen- New Orleans Zephyrs
Kevin Mattison- New Orleans Zephyrs
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An updated full list will be published upon the conclusion of Spring Training.  Rosters come out the Sunday evening!  Until then, WOOT WOO… IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!
-jordan

Who’s ready for the upcoming season?

After the last two years of making the Championship games, and winning one of them, who’s ready to see what’s in store this year?  I know I am.  I have that itch that usually arrives every february.  When colleges and high schools start playing baseball.  I begin think of my beloved Hoppers.  And how I can’t wait to get back to the smell of hot dogs on the grill, the sausage races, and you can’t forget the fireworks!  Which to to those of you that don’t make it to the ballpark, we put on the best firework show in the state!  The team this year I think is on the brink of something special.  Definately worth coming out for.  I believe the Hoppers staff have big things in store as far as promotions, games, and giveaways.  I also think the team itself wants to go for a three peat into the championship round again this year.  And with the state of Marlins baseball right now, there is a good chance at seeing a future major leaguer out there.  From the 2011 team, Marcell Ozuna, has already made the trip to Spring Training with the Miami Marlins aboard their 40 man roster.  I expect big things this year.  I have created a short promo video to get you HYPE for this season.  Check it out. Enjoy. And remember…. IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE A HOPPER!

-jordan

“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

Hoppers Win Division Series, On To Championship

Oh my goodness, the time slipped away from my completely before I was able to write a good review of Friday’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the Hickory Crawdads. Short version: the Hoppers won, giving them the Division Title and moving them to the League Championship series against the Savannah Sand Gnats. That series begins tonight in Greensboro.  Game two will be played in Greensboro tomorrow night. Games three, and if necessary, four and five, will be played in Savannah.

The game Friday really was a very enjoyable game to watch, especially since the Hoppers established the lead early and didn’t give it up. Check out Bill on Baseball: Hoppers reaching for the ring for some great quotes from JT Realmuto and Kyle Winters about the Division win and the upcoming Championship series.

And let me leave you with a few pictures from Friday’s game. This first one is of a fan named Beth holding what was the most popular sign for all the Hoppers fans — and team members — at the game:

Here’s Marcell Ozuna swinging. He ended up going 0-5.

Here’s a view of the Hoppers players watching the action on the field while Hickory was pitching.

Here’s the end of the game celebration, as the Hoppers bench empties and they all run on the field to congratulate each other on the win.

Finally, here’s how I had the game scored.

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