Tagged: robert morey

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 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

Marcell Ozuna at bat

The Sand Gnats Strike Back (7/30/2011)

Tonight’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the Savannah Sand Gnats was ugly. It boiled down to pitching. The Hoppers couldn’t field a good pitcher until their third try, in the sixth inning. And the Sand Gnats fielded three good pitchers for the entire game.

Sigh. Towards the end of the game, I joked with my friend Jonathan that they should put Robert Morey back in, after his masterful complete game shutout yesterday.

Marcell Ozuna at bat

Marcell Ozuna at bat

Check out the official box score and recap for all the particulars, but here’s a quick rundown from my perspective by the visitor’s dugout. Rett Varner was the Hoppers starting pitcher. He had a great first inning, two strikeouts and one hit. They even caught the one hit attempting to steal second. Then Varner kinda fell apart and they finally pulled him after four innings, having given up 3 runs on 6 hits. Varner was replaced by Kenneth Toves, who only lasted an inning and two thirds, giving up 3 runs on 5 hits. The Hoppers finally fielded a good pitcher in Miguel Mejia, who pitched two and a third innings, only allowing 1 hit, and 0 runs. Mejia is new on the team, and I look forward to seeing him throughout the rest of the season. Jordan Conley came in for the final inning and I was afraid the Sand Gnats were going to manufacture RBIs a single at a time, but he managed to hold them to 1 run off 3 hits. Offensively, the Hoppers couldn’t seem to hit anything, and they ended up only scoring 1 run (from Jacob Realmuto) off 3 hits. I was so disgusted with the game that I didn’t even stick around for the fireworks. I went to Cook Out and got a milkshake instead.

Enough about the game. I’d just like to close the book on that one and come out fresh tomorrow.

Before the game, I headed out to the park to watch BP through the fence and try to snag some balls. It was a great day for snagging, and I snagged five (came home with four, since all the snaggers share the balls evenly). I met another gentleman and his son who came out to try and snag balls to use for their own batting practice. That’s an awesome reason to come to the park early and try to snag BP balls. I still had a ball from yesterday that I couldn’t use for autographs since it had a big black smudge on the sweet spot, so I gave it to them before I headed into the park.

Today was one of the monthly season ticket holder Saturdays, so they let us in an hour early. There ended up being about seven of us who came, a very disappointing turnout. The ballpark didn’t even have the complementary snacks that they usually have for us. And there wasn’t any program. So we just got to kinda wander around a bit and all ended up sitting together for a while and chatting about how it’s a shame that so many season ticket holders don’t care to take advantage of the perks the Hoppers are trying out this year. I’m not sure they’ll continue this perk next year, which bums me out, but Tim mentioned that they’re working on some other ideas to implement. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

Sand Gnats take BP

Sand Gnats take BP

Once it got closer to game time, I tried to get some more autographs. My only success came at the autograph table, where I got pitchers Chris Shafer and Holden Sprague to autograph a baseball. I also got Chris’ autograph on his card. Almost all of the cards I have left for autographs are pitchers, but I couldn’t find any of them in the bullpen before the game, so there was nothing going on there. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Chris Shafer autograph

Chris Shafer autograph

I spent the game with friends by the visitor’s dugout again tonight, which was as enjoyable as always. We toned down our heckling a bit.

Well, that’s pretty much it. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better game. We’re still quite a bit out of contention for taking the 2nd half for the playoff spot, but if Hickory captures it again, we’re sitting pretty well with our overall win-loss record, and might be able to capture a spot that way.

Here’s how I had the game. It was ugly.

Scorecard. Sand Gnats over Hoppers, 7-1

Scorecard. Sand Gnats over Hoppers, 7-1

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

Christian Yelich at bat, solo homer.

Morey’s Masterful Complete Game Shutout (7/29/2011)

Robert Morey pitching a complete game shut-out.

After the eighth inning of last night’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the Savannah Sand Gnats, my friends and I were wondering hoping that they’d let Robert Morey come back in for the 9th, in an attempt to get a complete game. He had been pitching great all night, facing only four over the minimum at that point. He had racked up 9 strikeouts and no walks. It hadn’t even registered to me that he was pitching a shutout. During the bottom of the eighth, they were warming up Michael Ojala, so we weren’t sure who was going to start the ninth. When Morey took the field, we were giddy with excitement. The first batter went down on a 6-3 groundout. The second batter made us nervous when he got into scoring position on a stand up double. But the third and fourth batters were easily retired with fly balls to left and center field and the game was over. Hoppers over the Sand Gnats, 5-0.

Robert Morey pitched a complete game.

Robert Morey pitched a complete game shutout.

I’ve never seen a pitcher pitch a complete game. I don’t think it happens very often in Low-A ball. To watch Morey work the game and secure a complete game shutout was a real thrill. The event was noteworthy enough that MiLB.com ran a story about the game. According to that article, Morey’s been lacking confidence this season, but last night’s game probably helped him in that regard. He notes that he’s happy with his curveball and the fact that he was throwing first-pitch strikes helped give him the confidence that his stuff was just where it needed to be. And in what I think is an incredibly classy move, he gives credit to catcher Jacob Realmuto for calling a great game.

Offensively, the Hoppers looked good, too. Three of our five runs were solo homers: Marcell Ozuna in the first, Christian Yelich in the third, and James Wooster in the fourth. The other two runs came in the seventh from Noah Perio and another run from Ozuna.

Christian Yelich at bat, solo homer.

Marcell Ozuna at bat, bunts a single and advances to 2nd on the throw to 3rd. Everyone safe.

For all the details on the game, check out the official box score, game recap, and a story that the Sand Gnats published.

Lately, I’ve been showing up early to the games to watch batting practice from Eugene Street and snag BP balls. Last night, my wife and I decided to get supper before the game (we went downtown to the Mellow Mushroom, always a treat), and that ate into all of my BP time. We did drive by the ballpark on the way to supper, though, and I spotted a ball on the sidewalk against the fence. I pulled the car over and jumped out to retrieve it and found another ball along the fence on my way to pick that one up. BAM! Out of the car for 20 seconds and I snagged 2 more balls for my collection. The sweet spots were either too scuffed up or stained to make them good autograph balls, so they’ll probably find their way into the hands of a kid at the ballpark someday.

Once in the park, I concentrated on collecting more autographs on my card set and was very successful. I got autographs from Isaac Galloway, Noah Perio, Danny Black (who is sporting a pretty awesome “Second Half ‘Stache” now), Wilfredo Gimenez, Grant Dayton, Jordan Conley, Mike Ojala, and Michael Brady. I also had a quick chat with Kyle Winters, who is always friendly. His family made it out to the park for the last home stand, and I got to meet his mother (who sometimes comments in this blog as “catherine”). They’re all great people and Kyle said he was glad I got a chance to meet them.

Autographs: Isaac Galloway, Noah Perio, Danny Black, Wilfredo Gimenez, Grant Dayton, Jordan Conley, Mike Ojala, Michael Brady

After the first inning, I spent the evening watching the game from Section 110, next to the visitors dugout, with some friends. I think I’m going to move my season ticket to that area next year. I’m going to miss the tunnel area, but the view from that close is so much better, and it’s fun to heckle the opposing team.

Today’s one of the monthly season ticket holder Saturdays, where they’ll let us in the ballpark an hour early to watch batting practice, maybe hear a talk from a coach or players, and enjoy some complementary snacks. This is something new that they’re doing this year, and not many season ticket holders are taking advantage of it. I hope they keep it up because it’s a really nice perk.

Anyway, here’s how I had the game. I know of at least one error on my card: in the 2nd, Jet Butler was out on a dropped third strike, 2-3, not the 5-3 ground out I recorded. And I haven’t done the stats yet. I’m going to be keeping my eye out for Robert Morey for the rest of the season and try to get him to autograph this scorecard.

Scorecard: Robert Morey pitches a complete game shutout.

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

GSO v LAK Game 2 (7/5/2010)

The Lakewood BlueClaws rolled into Greensboro for a four-game series from July 4-7. I was out of town visiting family for the July 4 game (which the Hoppers lost 2-5), but made it to the rest of the games in the series. The July 5 game was another loss (2-7), and it was was another hot day game. I had the day off from work in recognition of the Independence Day holiday and got back into town just in time to make it to the game. It was another hot day — the temperature cooled down while the boys were on the road, but climbed back up once they came back to town.

One of the ceremonial first pitches was thrown by Sweet Lou Whitaker, a second baseman for the Detroit Tiger from 1977 to 1995. Apparently, Sweet Lou lives in a nearby town and is friends with the owner of the Hoppers, so his presence at the ballpark isn’t terribly out of the ordinary. It was definitely pretty cool to see a major leaguer throw a first pitch on the field.

Sweet Lou Whitaker

The most interesting part of the game was what I believe was the professional debut of right-handed pitcher Robert Morey. I might have previously seen Morey pitch during this year’s ACC Tournament, which was held in Greensboro. I just don’t remember if I saw a Virginia game where he pitched or not. The Marlins drafted him in the 5th round of this year’s draft and he was assigned to the Jamestown Jammers. I couldn’t find a record of him pitching in Jamestown before getting moved up to Greensboro, so I think his appearance against the BlueClaws was his pro debut. It appears that pitcher Anillins Martinez was released in order to make room for Morey on the roster. Morey pitched two innings, allowing 2 hits, 1 run, and getting 2 strikeouts. In what is called a “piggyback” start (thanks to Bill on Baseball’s recent blog entry for explaining that term), Morey was replaced by Curtis Peterson, who pitched for five innings, allowing 6 hits, 3 runs, and striking out 4. Alejandro (AJ) Ramos closed the final two innings, allowing 3 runs off 2 hits and getting 3 strikeouts.

Here’s a series of pictures of Robert Morey throwing a warm-up pitch:

Robert Morey-1
Robert Morey-2

Robert Morey-3
Robert Morey-4

This game marked the third appearance of my Rally Cap since I started paying attention to its win-loss record. I pulled the Rally Cap in the top of the 8th, when AJ took the mound. The Hoppers were down 4-2, and I thought my Cap might work its magic again when Greensboro turned a nice double play followed by a skillful strikeout. Alas, the magic wasn’t working and my Rally Cap suffered its first loss since I started keeping track, bringing it to a 2-1 record. The Cap would make another appearance in the next game.

Promotion Results
Sausage Race (between 2nd and 3rd): won by Hot Sausage. Country was looking good, but stopped to do a line dance between third and home.
Sumo (middle of 3rd): won by Blue Sumo

Sausage Race

Sumo

The Hoppers have recently reintroduced their “strikeout victim” promotion. They choose a batter on the opposing team, and if that batter strikes out, everyone at the game gets a coupon for a free item from a local business. In years past, it was sponsored by Waffle House and the coupon was for a free waffle. It was hugely popular with the fans. Every time the strikeout victim would appear at the plate, the stadium would erupt with cries of “Waffle! Waffle! Waffle!” With Waffle House’s financial woes this year, I don’t think they could afford to sponsor the promotion again. So, for the first half of the season, there was no strikeout victim. Recently, Sheetz has stepped up to sponsor the promotion and it’s called “Fry Guy” because if the batter strikes out, everyone gets a coupon for free fries. The problem the Hoppers were having is that the fans just couldn’t seem to get into the rhythm of chanting “Fry Guy” like they would “Waffle.” I think the promotions department has come up with a solution — they now put someone on each dugout with a sign. On the third base side, it’s “FRY” and on the first base side, it’s “GUY.” Under their leading, the crowd is much more lively in getting the chanting going. Here’s a picture of Laura on the third base side, holding up the “FRY” sign:

Fry Guy Promotion

Check out the complete recap and box score on the Hoppers site. There’s also a game story over there.

Somehow, I messed up the batting order on my scoring program, so I only scored a couple of innings of the game. No scoresheets to share this time.

All of my pictures from the game are on Facebook.

See ya at the ballpark!
hoppersfan@gmail.com
twitter.com/HoppersFan