A split season is a curious thing in the minor leagues.
The calendar says it's a new season in terms of wins and losses and a chance to make the playoffs by winning the second half. But for the players, it's business as usual.
"The numbers say it's a re-start, but we don't do that," said Hoppers manager Miguel Perez. "It's just a continuation of doing the same things. We want to be the best we can be and try to go out and play great."
According to the second-half standings, the Hoppers are 3-4 after their 9-2 win over West Virginia on Wednesday. But the way Perez sees it, their overall record of 47-29 is the true measure of what they have accomplished.
This is not nearly the same team that began the season on April 4. Of the 25 players on the Opening Day roster, only nine are still here. Twelve have been promoted to Bradenton - eight pitchers and four position players. That's exactly what the coaching staff is here to help them accomplish - get better and move up. Three others are with the West Virginia Black Bears in the New York-Penn League.
Then there's the case of third baseman Patrick Dorrian, who up until an hour before Wednesday's game was the 10th player still with the Hoppers from Opening Day. That's when he learned he had been the "player to be named later" in a deal the Pirates made with the Orioles a few weeks ago. He had no inkling a change in organizations was coming.
"That's the thing about this game," Perez said. "You never know where you're going to be tomorrow so you've got to do everything you can to get better today. I've got nothing but great things to say about Dorrian. He's a true professional and I think he'll have success wherever he is."
Dorrian played in 64 games and hit .256 with 17 doubles, three triples, six homers and 31 RBIs. With the recent promotions of Lolo Sanchez and Rodolfo Castro to Bradenton, he figured to be the heart of the lineup with holdovers Mason Martin and Fabricio Macias.
Those two certainly did their part Wednesday. Martin belted his 20th homer of the season, a two-run shot that lifted his RBI total to 69. He continues to lead the South Atlantic League in both categories.
Macias went 4-for-5 and had three RBIs. In the sixth inning of a 1-1 game, his bases-loaded mammoth popup fell between West Virginia shortstop Utah Jones and left fielder Ryan Ramiz for a base hit that drove in the go-ahead run. Jones, playing with the infield drawn in, raced back but had no chance for the catch. Ramiz, charging in from left field, hesitated and the ball ticked off his glove and fell to the grass.
His next time up, Macias ripped a hard grounder just inside the line past third base to drive in two more runs that highlighted a four-run inning.
"He has worked hard on being short to the ball and it's paying off," hitting coach Chris Peterson said of Macias' swing. "There's no magic; he's trusting the process. Our guys are easy to work with and they're getting their work done and using their time wisely. It's fun watching them grow."
Peterson said Martin "is not stressing about hitting home runs. He's working on solid contact and when he makes it, the ball is going who knows where."
An unsung hero of the game was starting pitcher Connor Loeprich, who didn't get the decision but held the Power to one run on two hits through five innings, striking out seven. He has also made spot starts in two doubleheaders, but he'll keep his role in the bullpen.
"He's a guy who can give us length and effectiveness and a chance to win," said pitching coach Stan Kyles. "It's good to have someone with that versatility in the bullpen."
Reliever Cam Alldred picked up the win, allowing one run in three innings, and Yerry De Los Santos pitched a perfect ninth inning.
"We've been a little schizophrenic in the pen lately," Kyles said, "so it was good to see a nice job today."
The team heads on the road for seven games, the first four at Lakewood and the next three at Hagerstown. The Hoppers return home on July 4, traditionally the largest crowd of the season.
NOTES: With Dorrian's sudden departure, the Hoppers were left with just 10 position players on the roster, meaning Perez had only catcher Grant Koch as a substitute … The latest pitcher promoted to Bradenton was left-hander Braedon Ogle, making the sixth member of Greensboro's bullpen to be called up … Right-hander Cody Smith was added to replace him … Greensboro native Devin Sweet, who played at Southeast Guilford and N.C. Central, started for the Power and went five innings, surrendering three runs … Sweet pitched into the sixth, but lost his command and loaded the bases with no outs … Two runs that scored in the inning were charged to him.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.