Tagged: wilfredo giminez

Congratulations To The 2012 SAL Northern Division Champions!

Howdy, Hoppers fans! Greg here. Yes, I’ve been away from the blog for most of the season, but I’m back tonight while Jordan was covering high school football. Once again, I’d like to extend a huge than-you to Jordan for keeping the blog going this season while I’ve been busy with a new job, in a new town, and a new baby. I only made it out to 2 or 3 games this year, but I sure enjoyed reading about the season from the blogs and pictures that Jordan posted throughout the season. THANK YOU, Jordan!

This was the scene at the end of tonight’s game:

Why are the players dousing themselves in champagne? Because the Greensboro Grasshoppers beat the Hagerstown Suns by a score of 7-5, and in so doing, they became the 2012 SAL NORTHERN DIVISION CHAMPIONS! Now they will move on to defend last year’s SAL Championship and look to bring home the prize two years in a row. I especially like how, in this photo, team owner Donald Moore is simply standing just outside of the celebration and watching.

The game started out in what I’d describe as a bit of a pitcher’s duel. Things remained scoreless until the bottom of the third, when the Hoppers just started tearing everything up. Ryan Rieger walked and advanced to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt from Austin Nola. Then Wilfredo Giminez hit a monster homer to Natty’s hill, bringing in 2 runs. Next up, Ryan Goetz, who doubles. He’s followed by Austin Barnes, who homers, brining in two more runs. No one else would score that inning, but it energized the crowd, and put Greensboro in a solid position. Pitcher Jake Esch was throwing a no hitter, pretty much 3 up, 3 down. I wad exited, feeling good.

Check out Austin Barnes coming to the plate after hitting his home run:

Then we made it to the fifth inning.

Check out the official recap for the details, but the short version is that Hagerstown scored 4 runs of their own while the Greensboro defense fell apart. Esch was replaced by Brad Mincey to get the final out of the inning and stop the bleeding. I was starting to get worried about the Hoppers’ ability to secure the win. But they responded with 2 runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth: Ryan Goetz and Brent Keys each made it across the plate. The Hoppers never lost the lead again — 2 scoreless innings, then each team scored a run in the eighth (Ryan Goetz made it home on a beautiful sacrifice fly from Austin Barnes). Hagerstown was unable to score in the ninth, and the game was over.

As always, the Hoppers put on great between-inning entertainment. Tonight’s mascot race featured young Hoppers Fan photo corespondent Eli racing Guilford around the bases. Here’s Eli breaking the finish tape (you might want to click the picture to see the bigger version…):

It was really exciting to be at the park for the Hoppers to sweep the Suns. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it out to any of the league playoff games, but I’m going to try!

For more insight in tonight’s game, check out Bill on Baseball: “I’ll take our chances with anybody.” Bill talked with a lot of people after the game and got a lot of great quotes.

Good luck, Hoppers! Let’s see if you can bring home another trophy this year!

Remember, you can click on any of the pictures in the post to embiggen them. Check out the photo album on Facebook for all the pictures. Join the conversation by leaving a comment — what are you thinking?

See ya at the ballpark!
Email: hoppersfan@gmail.com
Twitter: @HoppersFan
Facebook: www.facebook.com/HoppersFan

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“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 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

Pictures From Last Game Against Augusta (8/17/2011)

OK, with an eight game home stand starting tonight, I realize that I’m simply not going to get around to writing up a review of last Wednesday’s day game for the Greensboro Grasshoppers vs. the Augusta GreenJackets. The GreenJackets won in an enjoyable game to watch. I’d love to see these teams battle again in the post-season for the championship. Augusta’s on a good track to make it there. Greensboro has a lot of work to do.

I did take lots of pictures, which are all on the Facebook photo album. But I’d like to go ahead and share one picture here, of Wilfredo Giminez getting ready to take a pitch.

Wilfredo Giminez Waits For A Pitch

Looking forward to the next string of games. The season’s almost over, so every game needs to count. For a good breakdown of what the Hoppers need to do to make some postseason dreams happen, check out the latest Bill on Baseball blog entry: Big push needed in final homestand.

Remember, you can click on the picture in the post to embiggen 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 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 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

06/16/2011 – KAN Intimidators v GSO Grasshoppers (Game 2)

I hit the road down to Kannapolis for Game 2 against the Intimidators. This is the final series before the All-Star Break. This was my first time in Kannapolis, and I’m thrilled I went down for the game. The Hoppers won, 5-2. Check out the box score, game recap, and/or game story (from Kannapolis’ point of view) for the particulars.

Pitching for Greensboro was Zach Neal, who pitched six innings and is credited with the win. He was relieved by Grant Dayton, who pitched two innings, and Michael Brady, who pitched the ninth and got the save. Both of Kannapolis’ runs happened while Neal was on the mound, who also allowed 5 of Kannapolis’ 6 hits. Neal struck out 4, walked 1, and hit 3 batters. Dayton allowed 1 hit, 1 walk, and struck out 5. Brady’s single inning of pitching consisted of two fly outs to right fielder Marcell Ozuna and a strike out. All in all, the Hoppers looked good. They fell behind in the third, when Kannapolis scored 2 runs. In the 4th, Christian Yelich scored. No more runs scored until the 7th, when the Hoppers scored three runs: Wilfredo Giminez, Danny Black, and Noah Perio. A solo home run by Mark Canha in the 8th was the final run scored in the evening.

On the Intimidators side of the scorecard, the word of the day was “error.” As in the three errors they committed throughout the game, causing 2 of the Hoppers’ 5 runs to be unearned.

This win keeps the Hoppers in contention for the first-half pennant. Unfortunately, the Hickory Crawdads also won their game, so they still lead the Hoppers in the division by a tiny percentage of games won (.591 to Greensboro’s .589). At this point, in order for the Hoppers to win the first half, they need to win one more game than Hickory does. So Hickory still needs to lose at least one game. Of course, how Hickory performs is out of the Hoppers’ hands, so the best thing they can do is continue to win games. With just two games left in the first half, the race continues to be tight.

Enough talk about the game itself, let’s switch to the experience. As I mentioned earlier, this was my first visit to a ballgame at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium. I had previously been at the ballpark to find a geocache, but I’ve never seen a game there. It’s about an hour and a quarter drive south on I-85 from Greensboro, and the drive was enjoyable enough. The stadium itself is practically right next to the interstate, so it was easy to get there once I got off the highway.

I’m a bit spoiled being able to find free parking around the stadium in Greensboro. That’s part of the difference between a downtown stadium and a stadium off by itself. The only parking available was in the stadium lot, and it cost $2. After parking my car, this is what I stepped out to see:

Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium

Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium

Once inside the park, this is what it looked like:

Inside the Park

Inside the Park

Inside the Park

Inside the Park

As I was walking around a bit, an Intimidators employee stopped me and directed me to the gift shop. He assured me that I would be able to find a much, much nicer hat in the store than the one I was wearing (which was, of course, my Grasshoppers hat). He even offered to come in with me and help me pick one out. When I asked, he stopped just short offering to actually purchase it for me. It was a fun conversation. Everyone I encountered at the park was friendly and helpful.

For the game, I had a ticket on the front row right next to the visitor’s dugout, right behind the on deck circle. I loved it! Here’s a picture from the game of Zach Neal pitching:

Zack Neal Pitching

Zack Neal Pitching

The other great thing about my seat was that it was in the same section that almost all the other Hoppers fans seemed to choose to sit in. I recognized a lot of faces of the people who sit near me in Greensboro, and we all introduced ourselves to each other. Everyone was really friendly, and I look forward to continuing our friendship throughout the rest of the season. One of my new friends even insisted on buying me a soda during the second half of the game, which was especially welcome during the extended drive home. It’s funny that we sit 10 yards from each other for thirty games, and it takes running into each other on a road game to start talking. In addition to those folks, I met a father and son who also came down for the game from Greensboro. I didn’t recognize them from Greensboro, but that’s probably because they spend most of their time in Greensboro on Natty’s Hill and/or the seats near the bullpen. Again, loads of fun meeting them and I look forward to seeing them at future games downtown.

So, if you go to a Hoppers game in Kannapolis, apparently the section to be in is 107. That’s where I’ll be whenever I head back.

I also snapped a pretty cool picture of the final pitch the Hoopers took in the 9th. Isaac Galloway striking out (swinging), with Noah Perio on deck. See how cool the view from these seats are? It’s like I’m right on the field.

Isaac Galloway batting, Noah Perio on deck

Isaac Galloway batting, Noah Perio on deck

I could also tell that the players appreciated having Hoppers fans at the park cheering them on. Several of them nodded in appreciation when they were in the on deck circle.

The drive back home took an extra 45 minutes because of road work on I-85N. That was unexpected, and unwelcome.

The whole experience was great — going to see my favorite team play an away game is really cool. I thought the same thing when I went to Charleston to see the Hoppers play the Riverdogs last year.

My wife went to school for a few weeks, and she took the small camera and the printer/scanner. I seem to have misplaced the DSLR, ’cause it hasn’t turned up yet. As a result, all the pictures from this game come courtesy of my iPhone and I couldn’t scan in a copy of my scorecard. So here’s a photograph instead:

Scorecard 6/17/2011: Hoppers (5) at Intimidators (2)

Scorecard 6/17/2011: Hoppers (5) at Intimidators (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.

See ya at the ballpark!
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