Tagged: ryan fisher

“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

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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 Deliver A Spanking To The GreenJackets (8/16/2011)

The Greensboro Grasshoppers beat the Augusta GreenJackets by such a wide margin (13-2) tonight that it’s almost embarrassing to talk about. Except for Danny Black, every Hoppers starting position player scored at least one run. Kyle Winters appeared to have an off night for his latest start after recently coming off the DL (he pitched three and two-thirds innings and didn’t get the win), but James Leverton’s relief pitching was good enough to easily carry throughout the rest of the game. Combined with both poor pitching and poor offense from the GreenJackets, the Hoppers came away from this game with an easy win. Check out the official box score and game recap for the details. There’s also a nice story from the GreenJackets perspective of the game: GreenJackets Held to Five Hits in 13-2 Setback. As of my writing this, Bill Hass hasn’t posted a story about tonight’s game on the Bill on Baseball blog, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that he’ll have some great insight from the players with their thoughts of how the game went down. Update: Bill’s blog entry about the game is up now: How to respond to a buzzing. He focuses on Perio’s two home runs, and includes thoughts from Perio about his performance.

I don’t have a whole lot in the way of pictures from this game, but here’s a shot of the latest GreenJackets pitcher to have the Hello Kitty backpack, Seth Rosin:

GreenJackets Pitcher Seth Rosin With The Hello Kitty Backpack

One of the autograph-seeking kids asked why he had a pink backpack and Seth’s response was it was because he gave up a homer (to Marcell Ozuna) in last night’s game. I wonder who will be wearing the backpack tomorrow. If they had enough backpacks, I’d make all four of tonight’s pitchers wear one.

Check out the Facebook photo album for the rest of the pictures I took tonight, including some pitching sequences of both Kyle Winters and James Leverton.

Offensively, the Hoppers looked great tonight. Like I mentioned earlier, everyone except Danny Black got to score: Noah Perio (x2), Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich (x2), Mark Canha (x2), Jacob Realmuto (x3), Wilfredo Giminez, Ryan Fisher, and Isaac Galloway. Four of those runs were homers — Noah Perio (x2), Mark Canha, and Jacob Realmuto. It was really impressive to watch Noah hit back-to-back homers in the third and fourth innings. I think they awarded him “Player Of The Game” for tonight based on his performance.

The Hoppers were aided in their win tonight by the fact that the GreenJackets just kind of fell apart. Going into the fourth inning, the game was tied 1-1. When Jacob Realmuto came to the plate as the second batter of the inning, the momentum dramatically shifted to the Hoppers’ favor. Realmuto reached base on an an error (charged to the first baseman) and ended up being the first of five runs scored that inning. I’m not even sure how many of those runs count as earned and how many count as unearned. But when that error occurred, I commented to a friend sitting next to me that it might turn out to be an extremely expensive error. I believe that it was. While the GreenJackets were able to score a second run in the sixth, they never really posed much of an offensive or defensive threat after committing that error. There were several times during the game when the Hoppers could have pressed for a greater advantage, but the unwritten rules of baseball kept them playing conservatively.

I’m glad to have the win in our column, but especially after the tense battle of yesterday’s game, it just doesn’t seem right to revel in tonight’s victory too much. We’ll see how tomorrow goes and if we can take the series or end up splitting it with the GreenJackets. This has been a really enjoyable series, and I’d love to see these two teams meet on the diamond again for the SAL championship title. Tonight’s win puts us four and a half games out of first — we gained a game since yesterday. So we’re inching our way up the ladder, staying in contention. If we keep this up, it’s going to go right down to the wire, and make for a very exciting end of the season.

Here’s how I had the game. Check out the impressive bottom of the fourth, and all the runs that were scored.

8/16/2011 Scorecard: Greensboro (13) v Augusta (2)

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

Get The Brooms, The Hoppers Sweep Lakewood (8/13/2011)

Tonight’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the Lakewood Blueclaws put the nails on the coffin of a clean four-game sweep. As always, check the official box score and game recap for the details. Don’t forget to check out Bill Hass’ “Bill On Baseball” blog, where he wrote a great piece about about tonight’s game, including a description of the at bat you’ll see pictures from later in this blog entry: Zawacki wins battle, Hoppers get the sweep.

It was a great day for a game. The overnight and morning rain cooled things down enough to make it comfortable. Season ticket holders were able to get into the park early today. They didn’t have any special programs for us again, but they let us go stand by the outfield wall and try to catch balls that left the park. The wind was blowing in, so most of the balls were staying in, but I managed to get one ball that made it over.

Before the game, I was hanging out by the tunnel and got autographs from Noah Perio and Jacob Realmuto:

Autographs: Noah Perio and Jacob Realmuto

By the time the game started, I headed over to my adopted new seats by the visitor’s dugout to enjoy the game with my friend Jonathan. We especially had a great time heckling Jim Murphy, who is sporting an awesome mustache. Before the game today, announcer Jim Scott gave a nod to the mustache by introducing him as “Jim ‘Stache’ Murphy.” Jonathan even brought his fake mustache from home to help with the heckling:

Jim "Mustache" Murphy and Jonathan's Mustache

Murphy’s been having a tough time in Greensboro. He hit a double yesterday, but that’s the only hit he had in the entire series. I think he ended up being one for fourteen for the series. The only time he made it on base today was via a walk. Remember earlier when I said that Bill Hass’ blog entry describes some pictures you’ll be seeing here? Well here they are — Jim Murphy’s final swing of the evening, striking out. It’s what Bill described as pitcher Greg Nappo’s crossroads:

Jim "Mustache" Murphy About To Strike Out

Jim "Mustache" Murphy Striking Out

When the game started, I was concerned that the Hoppers wouldn’t be able to keep their winning streak up. The first Lakewood batter reached base on a single and the second batter knocked him in on a two-run homer. Fortunately, those were the only runs Lakewood scored. Offensively, the Hoppers went to work chipping away at that lead. Marcell Ozuna scored on some very smart baseball in the first inning. He tripled, and when Christian Yelich was out on a dropped third strike, Ozuna was able to run home quicker then Cameron Rupp and Jim Murphy were able to complete a 2-3-2 volley. The fact that Ozuna even attempted to score on the dropped third strike took Lakewood by surprise. They weren’t particularly hustling to get the out recorded, and I’m not sure they even knew Ozuna was running until their dugout started yelling and pointing. It’s also a testament to the great instincts Ozuna has and the fine third base coaching manager Andy Haines provides. The Hoppers’ second run came in the third when Isaac Galloway scored on an Ozuna single, after having reached base on a single himself and advancing to second via either a wild pitch or passed ball. Galloway played the hero by brining in the final two Hoppers runs on a high-over-center-field homer that also drove in Ryan Fisher. Galloway was on fire tonight: 3 at bats, 3 hits (single, double, home run), 2 runs, and 2 RBIs.

As impressive as our offensive was, once again, the game came down to pitching. Of the 11 strikeouts recorded by Greensboro’s three pitchers (Greg Nappo (W, 4-0), Brett Zawacki (H, 1), and Michael Brady (S, 16)), a full 7 of them were called third strikes looking. Our pitchers simply displayed stuff that was difficult to hit and threw pitches that Lakewood didn’t want to swing at.

Here’s some pictures of tonight’s three pitchers: Nappo, Zawicki, and Brady.

Greg Nappo Pitching

Brett Zawicki pitching

Michael Brady pitching

I didn’t sketch out my scorecard in time for the game today, so I kept score in the program. Here’s how I had it:

8/13/2011 Scorecard: Greensboro (4) v Lakewood (2)

With tonight’s win, the Hoppers pull themselves even with Lakewood in the 2nd half. We’re chipping away at that playoff spot. Tomorrow starts a four game series against the Augusta GreenJackets. They’re currently doing very well and could present a stumbling block for the Hoppers. But with the momentum the team has established, and the great pitching we’ve been seeing lately, the team’s got a good shot if they can keep doing what they’re doing. We’ll see how it goes.

Remember, you can click on any of the pictures in the post to embiggen them. I’ve been playing with a new camera, so some of them don’t embiggen well since I had bad settings on it. 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 Hot On Tropical Jersey Night (8/11/2011)

Tonight’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game against the Lakewood Blueclaws was the perfect example of what makes baseball exciting. The Hoppers struggled almost all night, falling behind from the very start, and unable to take the lead until the eighth inning. But when they took the lead, they took the lead. Going into the eighth, the Hoppers were behind 2-1. Then they scored 5 runs. The Blueclaws scored a solo home run in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough to overpower the successful rally and the Hoppers took the 2nd game in this series, 6-3. Check out the official box score and recap for the details.

The highlight of the night for me was winning the bidding on Kyle Winters‘ game-used tropical jersey!

The Hoppers Fan and Kyle Winters After the Game

The Hoppers Fan and Kyle Winters After the Game

Every year, they have “Tropical Jersey” night. The players wear special “tropical” jerseys and the team auctions them off throughout the game. This year, I had decided that I wanted to win Kyle’s jersey if I could. The bidding went right up to my limit, but in the end, I had the highest bid. I was thrilled! After the game, all the winners went on the field and the players came out and gave them the jerseys, literally off their back.

View From The Field, Waiting For The Jerseys

View From The Field, Waiting For The Jerseys

It was great to get to chat with Kyle a little more. I saw him before the game and told him I was bidding on his jersey and he wished me luck. At the end of the night, he seemed happy to see that I had won it and we had a great chat on the field.

Here’s a couple of pictures of him pitching tonight:

Kyle Winters Pitching

Kyle Winters Pitching

Kyle Winters Pitching

Kyle Winters Pitching

Since he’s newly off the DL, they only had him pitch four innings. The first inning was really rough — the first three batters reached base on singles, the first batter eventually making it home. Thankfully, the inning ended with a strikeout then a beautiful unassisted double play by Mark Canha. The first batter Kyle faced in the second inning hit the ball hard over the left field wall. I’m not sure if the ball has landed yet. After that, Kyle kept getting better. Of the remaining 11 batters he faced, he got one more strikeout, didn’t allow any more runs, only one more hit, and issued only one walk. Especially for a rehab start, I’d call it a success. I’m looking forward to seeing how his next several starts go.

After Kyle was done, he was replaced by James Leverton for four innings (who got the win) and Michael Brady for the final inning, in a non-save situation.

The eighth inning was the exciting inning. Jay Johnson was pitching (and got changed with both a blown save and the loss) for the Blueclaws. All nine Hoppers batters got to bat. It started with Noah Perio, who singled. Marcell Ozuna struck out. Christian Yelich walked and Perio went to second. Mark Canha singled and made it to second on the throw as Perio scored and Yelich advanced to third. Wilfredo Giminez pinch hit for Aaron Dudley, singling and driving in both Yelich and Canha. Jacob Realmuto flied out. Danny Black singled and Giminez made it to third. While Ryan Fisher was at bat, Black stole second. Then, both Giminez and Black scored on a throwing error by Blueclaws catcher Cameron Rupp. It was a really funny play — Giminez had a bit of a lead off third and Rupp tried to pick him off. His throw was about three feet over the third baseman’s head and went into left field. Giminez jogged in, apparently not realizing that Black was flying behind him like a freight train. Giminez barely got out of the way for Black to touch home, just before the ball came in to try to tag him out. Fisher went on to single. The Blueclaws finally had enough of Johnson, and they replaced him with Tyler Knigge, who struck out Isaac Galloway to end the inning. The turn around was spectacular. The fans were on their feet. There was energy in the ballpark again. The top of the ninth was quick, the only excitement coming from a great home run from Bill Rice. It wasn’t enough, though, and the game ended with the Hoppers on top, 6-3. Five of those six runs came in the eighth inning. That’s how baseball works, it turns around quickly.

It was a good day for ball snagging and autographs, too. I made it out to the park early again and had a very successful day snagging balls during batting practice, ending up with an even ten. I gave a few away throughout the night. During a bit of a break in BP, I played catch with fellow snaggers Josh and Jonathan. I can’t throw worth a hill of beans, and my catching was pretty off tonight, too, but thy put up with me. We played until I had to quit because of my back pain. That worked out fine, though, ’cause BP was picking back up and there were a few more balls to be snagged.

I got Robert Morey’s autograph on one one of the BP balls before the game. You might remember Morey from the complete game shut-out he pitched a few weeks ago. I also got his autograph on his baseball card. With his autograph, that leaves me with only 3 more Hoppers players still on the roster that I don’t have autographs for. In addition to Morey’s autograph, I also got Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna on their SAL All-Star cards.

 

Robert Morey Autograph

Robert Morey Autograph

Autographs: Robert Morey, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna

Autographs: Robert Morey, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna

The Hoppers need to keep winning like this. We’re still five and a half games out of first for the second half title. It will be hard, but there’s still a shot of making it to the playoffs. Bill Hass describes the scenarios in his blog — go check it out: Hoppers begin crucial home stretch. Oh, look — as I was looking up that blog entry, I noticed that Bill has posted another entry about tonight’s game. Go check it out, too: Hoppers seize the moment and the game. Bill gives his own take on the beautiful eighth inning, peppered with some great insider commentary from the players and managers. If you’re not already following the Bill on Baseball blog, you need to start now.

It’s an exciting time to be a Hoppers fan.

Here’s how I had the game scored. Check out that bottom of the eighth. It’s just beautiful.

Scorecard 8/11/2011: Greensboro (6) v Lakewood (3)

Scorecard 8/11/2011: Greensboro (6) v Lakewood (3)

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

Greensboro Takes Lakewood To The Cleaners (8/10/2011)

Today’s Greensboro Grasshoppers game was against the Lakewood Blueclaws. The Hoppers dominated the game, defeating the Blueclaws 8-2. Check out the official box score and game recap for the details.

I was thrilled for the boys to be back in town after a long stretch away. I even made it out to batting practice before they had set the batting cage up.

Batting Practice

Batting Practice

Batting practice was great today. I got there a few minutes before my friend Jonathan arrived and snagged 2 balls. The first ball cleared the nets and bounced in the middle of Eugene Street before hitting a truck that was driving down the road. It didn’t appear to do any damage, and rolled down the block to the Greek restaurant. I jogged over to retrieve it, and another ball left the park while I was getting it. It was resting against the fence and I picked it up on the way back. It was a beautiful ball that looked barely used. Once in the park, I got Marcell Ozuna to autograph it.

Marcell Ozuna Autograph

Marcell Ozuna Autograph

After Jonathan arrived for BP, the balls kept coming out of the park. Between the two of us, we must have gone home with at least a dozen. And we got to watch a tow truck run out of gas. Each of the folks in the tow truck managed to snag a ball while waiting for gas to arrive. Lots of fun.

When I got in the park, I saw all sorts of folks I knew. Several families that I know from church were there. I also saw lots of the regular fans I tend to see at most of the games. It was a great time. I spent the time before the game working on completing my autograph collection. I added Zach Neal and Willie Glen from the Hoppers to my collection. I also got Lakewood’s Domingo Santana’s autograph on the SAL Prospect card. He accidentally signed the Jesse Biddle card I had, too. Pretty funny — so now might the Biddle card be interesting to someone as a “misprint”? Santana was very apologetic about it. I told him not to worry. It really was my fault as much as anything — I didn’t point out the card I wanted signed, and both of the Blueclaws cards I had were right next to each other.

Autographs: Zach Neal, WIllie Glen, Domingo Santana, Domingo Santana on Jesse Biddle Card

Autographs: Zach Neal, WIllie Glen, Domingo Santana, Domingo Santana on Jesse Biddle Card

I also got a chance to chat with my favorite pitcher, Kyle Winters, who is finally off the DL. He’s scheduled to start tomorrow, so I’m really looking forward to seeing him on the mound again.

Then it was time to settle in for the game. And what a great game it was. For the Hoppers, there were three home runs, a triple, and a double. Noah Perio hit the triple on his very first at bat and Marcell Ozuna knocked him in on a ground out. The second inning saw two home runs: Aaron Dudley and Ryan Fisher. Danny Black scored on Fisher’s home run, too, after having expertly stole second base while Fisher was batting. The third inning saw a 2-run homer by Jacob Realmuto (which won me a Red Mango gift card). Ryan Fisher scored again in the fourth inning, having reached base on a single. The fifth through seventh innings were quiet for the Hoppers offense. In the eighth, Ryan Fisher put another run on the board  after having reached base on a double. With three at bats (on four plate appearances, having been walked in the fifth), Fisher was batting 1.000 — a homer, a single, and a double. He was awarded player of the game at the end of the contest. Defensively, pitcher Rhett Varner had a nice looking no-no through the first three innings, but allowed a single in the fourth to break it up. He kept them to no runs until the sixth inning, where he allowed the only two runs Lakewood scored. He was relieved by Jordan Conley for the final two innings. Conley only allowed one hit, in the ninth. The game moved very quickly (official time was 2:25), and a big part of that was the efficiency both Hoppers pitchers displayed. Conley, especially, kept the game moving at a quick pace as he retired batters and didn’t take much time between pitches.

Mark Canha at bat

Mark Canha at bat

The Hoppers are struggling in the second half of the season. It’s still possible for them to make the playoffs, but it’s going to be difficult. If they can keep playing — and winning — like they did tonight, they have a chance at making it. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Here’s how I had the game:

Scorecard: Greensboro (8) vs Lakewood (2), 8/10/2011

Scorecard: Greensboro (8) vs Lakewood (2), 8/10/2011

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