Townsley Wins Fifth Straight Start

By Greensboro Grasshoppers | July 16, 2014 4:55 PM ET

When you're as locked in as Sean Townsley, nothing really bothers you.

Start of the game delayed for an hour? No problem.

Light to moderate rain during play? No problem.

Monday's result: Seven shutout innings, three hits allowed and his fifth straight winning start.

Townsley's effort, backed by three home runs, lifted the Hoppers to a 4-0 win over the Delmarva Shorebirds Tuesday night. Heavy rain delayed things with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. After the required 30-minute wait, it was called by home plate umpire Brian Miller.

"I was suited up and ready to go," Townsley said of the one-hour delay before the start. "I sat in the corner of the dugout and waited until they pulled the tarp. I visualized using each of my pitches in different situations.

"The first three innings it was tough to maintain my grip on the ball. I used the resin bag a lot, although it didn't help much. I just stayed focused on keeping the ball down. Around the fourth or fifth inning the rain gave us a break."

Townsley said he can't remember a sustained stretch like he's in now. In his last two starts he has pitched 14 shutout innings and allowed just five hits. During his five-game winning streak, he has pitched 34 innings and given up just four runs on 22 hits with 31 strikeouts and eight walks. He has lowered his ERA to 2.22, best in the league.

Pitching coach Jeremy Powell said this start might have been the best of the five games.

"He's pitching with good tempo and good momentum to the plate," Powell said. "He's staying tall and using his height (6-foot-7) to his advantage. He's also managing the game with runners on base. It's nice to see."

Catcher Chad Wallach said it's easy and fun to catch Townsley with the way he's pitching.

"I just put down the fingers and the ball is there almost every time," Wallach said. "He's very relaxed. Nothing gets under his skin."

The starting rotation is in a state of flux at the moment. Domingo German, who missed a start while throwing a perfect inning in the Futures Game on Sunday, will be pushed back one and possibly two more starts. Ryan Newell has mononucleosis and is out for a least a month. Jarlin Garcia remains in the rotation but is inconsistent.

Powell said the club is piecing the staff together and is going to really need Townsley in the final six weeks of the regular season.

"I just try to go out and to my job," Townsley said, "and if that calls for a leadership role, so be it."

The offense provided all the support Townsley needed when newcomer Brian Anderson hit a two-run homer in the third inning. Anderson, this year's third-round draft pick out of Arkansas, moved up from Batavia to take the roster spot of second baseman Avery Romero, promoted to Jupiter.

Anderson arrived around 2 o'clock, just when his new teammates were getting to the clubhouse. The field was covered by the tarp, so the only batting practice he got was in the cages under the tunnel. So he took the field with a new team against a pitcher, Steven Brault, he had never seen.

"Baseball is baseball," Anderson said. "I did my best to get ready and it was a matter of go out, see it and hit it. It was exciting."

Anderson said he got a fastball down and in and drove his first Hoppers homer over the left field fence. He hit three in 20 games at Batavia.

"You can tell he can hit," said manager David Berg. "He gets ready and gets the bat head out there. He got into a good hitter's count (3-and-1), got a fastball and didn't miss it."

Against reliever Alex Santana, Wallach hit his seventh homer and Coco Johnson his first.

NOTES: Along with Romero, reliever Sean Donatello (11 saves) is moving up to Jupiter … The home runs hit by Wallach and Johnson in the bottom of the seventh counted statistically. That scoring rule was changed a couple of years ago so stats now count even if the inning is not completed … On one of the few mistakes Townsley made, he left a pitch up to Austin Wynns, who drove it deep to right field in the top of the seventh. But Kentrell Dewitt made a fine catch against the wall … Ryan Wertenberger, who pitched four fine innings in a spot start at West Virginia, will be the Hoppers' starter in Wednesday's game.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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