GREENSBORO, NC (April 6, 2018) - The Grasshoppers bullpen upheld a narrow lead for the team's second straight win over the Hickory Crawdads, 4-3, on Friday night at First National Bank Field. Reliever Colton Hock earned the win while striking out four batters over 3.0 relief innings, and Bryce Howe spun a scoreless, hitless ninth inning for the save (1).
Greensboro started the fireworks night presented by Lincoln Financial early with Isael Soto's 2-run home run (1) three batters into the game, scoring Aaron Knapp, for a 2-0 lead against Hickory's starting pitcher Alex Eubanks.
The Crawdads plated their first run as rain began to fall in the top of the fifth inning. Kole Enright led off with a double and moved to third base on a Yonny Hernandez sac-bunt. Eric Jenkins followed with an RBI-single to center field, scoring Enright to cut the Hoppers lead in half. Greensboro catcher BJ Lopez threw out Jenkins trying to steal second base for the second out of the inning, but Hickory followed with three straight singles to score Miguel Aparicio to tie the game, 2-2.
The Hoppers reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the sixth, chasing Eubanks from the game. Garvis Lara and Isael Soto opened the frame with base hits, and Eric Gutierrez walked to load the bases. Eubanks fanned the next two batters before being lifted for reliever Alex Speas. Micah Brown drew a walk off the right-hander to push the go-ahead run across the plate, and B.J. Lopez added an RBI-single for a 4-2 lead. Eubanks (0-1) took the loss, allowing four runs on five hits while striking out seven batters over 5 and 2/3 innings.
Hickory wasted little time trimming Greensboro's lead to one with a run in the top of the seventh. Aparicio singled in Hernandez, cutting the Hoppers lead to 4-3, but Colton Hock fanned the next two batters to get out of the inning with the lead intact.
Grasshoppers starting pitcher Brandon Miller took no decision in his first start of the season, working 5.0 innings and allowing two runs on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Greensboro continues this season-opening home stand on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. against Hickory with a Spectacular Saturday post-game fireworks display presented by Cone Health. The Grasshoppers will send RHP Ryan Lillie (0-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound against the Crawdads' RHP A.J. Alexy (0-0, 0.00 ERA) in Game 3 of the 4-game series. Tickets are available online at gsohoppers.com.