GREENSBORO, NC - The Delmarva Shorebirds seized control early and never looked back, cruising past the Greensboro Grasshoppers 8-3 on Friday night at First National Bank Field.
Nick Gruener (1-0) earned his first win in relief for the Shorebirds (28-29, 63-61), scattering two hits across three scoreless innings while walking one and striking out three. Trevor Rogers (2-6) took the loss for the Grasshoppers (23-34, 57-69), giving up six runs on eight hits over 4.2 frames.
The Shorebirds came alive against Rogers in the top of the second. Trevor Craport walked on four pitches to lead off, and Ryan Ripken lashed a single into right. Jean Carrillo came up next and poked a soft liner into right, but Jerar Encarnacion sold out on a dive and completely missed it, letting the ball trickle to the right field wall. Craport and Ripken both scored easily and Carrillo slid into third with a two-run triple, opening up a 2-0 Delmarva lead.
Branden Becker soon followed with a sac fly to plate Carrillo and make it 3-0. Will Robertson then legged out an infield hit, and two batters later Cadyn Grenier singled to left. That brought up Zach Jarrett, who golfed one into right center over Encarnacion's head for a two-run double, making it a five-run inning and 5-0 Shorebird lead.
The Grasshoppers peeled back a couple runs off Delmarva's DL Hall in the third. Jhonny Santos led off wiht a single, and Denis Karas singled two batters later to put two on. Connor Scott then notched a single into left, but Craport overran the ball, which allowed Santos to score with Greensboro's first run. Thomas Jones reached on catcher's interference to load the bases, and Osiris Johnson hoisted a sac fly into center to make it 5-2.
Hall stranded the other two men on to end the inning and got through the fourth unscathed. He exited with 83 pitches through four innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits, walking two and striking out five.
Delmarva reinforced their lead with a run each in the fifth, sixth, and seventh. Jean Carlos Encarnacion slashed a triple to right to lead off the fifth and scored on a Ripken RBI groundout. In the sixth, Will Robertson belted a solo home run that just cleared the wall in dead center, his eighth blast of the year. Ripken notched a two-out double in the seventh and scored on a single from Carrillo, putting the Shorebirds up 8-2.
Samuel Castro homered in the bottom of the ninth off Max Knutson to give the game its final margin.
Carrillo led the way for the Shorebirds, going 2-for-5 with a triple, run, and three RBIs. The three-sacker was the second of Carrillo's career and first since his time with the GCL Orioles in August 2016. Ripken finished 2-for-5 with a double, two runs, and an RBI, while Robertson went 3-for-4 with the solo homer and two runs scored.
Santos finished 3-for-4 with a run for the Grasshoppers, while Santos produced in both his at-bats after entering the game in the fifth, notching a double and homer.
With a win and Kannapolis' loss at Augusta, the Shorebirds have now trimmed their Wild Card deficit to 3.5 games with 10 to play. Delmarva is still also chasing West Virginia and Hickory in the standings; both teams also won.
The Shorebirds look to keep momentum against the Grasshoppers on Saturday night. Luis Perez (3-3, 3.50) takes the hill for Delmarva against Colton Hock (9-6, 4.28) of Greensboro. First pitch is set for 7:00 p.m., and pregame coverage on Fox Sports 960 AM and the MiLB First Pitch App begins at 6:45 with Will DeBoer on the call.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.