Greensboro, N.C. - Two years managing the Greensboro Grasshoppers, two South Atlantic League Northern Division First-Half Championships for manager David Berg. The Grasshoppers defeated the homestanding Kannapolis Intimidators 7-1, Sunday June 15 to clinch the first-half title and a spot in the playoffs. In 2012, the Hoppers clinched the Northern Division First-Half in Kannapolis behind Berg's leadership and the Suns in second place.
How the Hoppers clinched the first-half title is a storyline for the ages. On June 5, the Hoppers found themselves trailing the first-place Hagerstown Suns by seven games with 10 games left to play in SAL first-half play. The Hoppers won 10 in a row after dropping the June 5 game to the Suns, while the Suns went 3-7. The victory was also the Hoppers 21st in their last 26 games.
"I think the guys had fun and wanted it," Berg said. "This is probably one of the best group of guys as far as comradery and chemistry, that I have ever been around."
The Suns led Northern Division for most of the first-half, but saw their lead disappear on the behalf of the hot Hoppers. The Hoppers and Suns finished with identical 44-26 records, but with the Hoppers took three games from the Suns in their matchup June 5-8 and held the tiebreaker over the suns.
The maturity of the Hoppers could be one of the main reasons behind the comeback as the average age of Hopper hitters is 22 years and pitchers is 22 and five months.
Justin Bohn packed the hot bat for the Hoppers during the 10-game winning streak. Bohn went 13-for-39 while scoring seven runs and driving in 11 runs of his own. Since coming off the disabled list on June 2, Avery Romero has provided a much needed spark in the lineup. Romero hit for a .372 average with 16 hits and two home runs during the incredible winning streak for the Hoppers.
Pitching has been the backbone of this Hoppers team and it proved key during the comeback. SAL All-Star Domingo German went 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 12 strikeouts during the winning streak. German's effort on June 15 put the exclamation point on the Hoppers first-half as he struckout six over seven innings. Ryan Newell went 2-0 as well with a 2.21 ERA and 13 strikeouts.
The Hoppers earned themselves a well-deserved break going into the South Atlantic League All-Star Break. Austin Dean, Chad Wallach, Carlos Lopez, Felix Munoz, Matt Milroy and German will travel to Hickory, N.C. for the all-star game.
"I cannot explain this feeling," Berg said. "It was an unbelievable ride, watching these guys the last month has been incredible."
Berg and the Hoppers hope to keep that indiscernible feeling going in the second half as they start the second half of the season off June 19 at NewBridge Bank Park against none other than the Hagerstown Suns.
Playoff ticket information will be released in the next several days.
For ticket information on the upcoming June 19-June 26 homestand call 336.268.2255 or visit www.gsohoppers.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.