Greensboro, NC - Despite receiving an eight-run frame in the middle innings to take a big lead, the Greenville Drive were defeated by the Greensboro Grasshoppers 9-8 in walkoff fashion in Friday night's series-opening contest.
Trailing 2-0 in the top of the fifth, the Drive (5-23) sent 11 men to the plate and brought eight of them in to score. A Grasshoppers (15-11) throwing error, an RBI fielder's choice by Cole Brannen and RBI hits from Zach Sterry and C.J. Chatham set the stage for Marino Campana, who blasted a grand slam to left field to make the score 8-2.
That lead evaporated in the bottom of the sixth when the Grasshoppers knocked Jhonathan Diaz out of the game as part of a six-run inning. Thomas Jones, a native of Laurens, hit a solo homer to begin the frame, and after a Drive pitching change, a bases loaded walk and a two-run single from Micah Brown cut the lead to 8-6. Following the second pitching change of the inning, Lazaro Alonso doubled to bring in two more runs.
Angel Padron (1-1) kept the Grasshoppers at bay from there until the bottom of the ninth. Michael Hernandez led off with a single, moved to second on an error, and came in to score the winning run on a single by Zach Sullivan.
Colton Hock (4-2) threw two scoreless innings for Greensboro to get the win in relief.
The Grasshoppers tagged Diaz for a pair of runs to get out in front early, thanks to RBI doubles from Jhonny Santos in the second and Alonso in the third.
Campana's grand slam was his team-leading fourth homer of the season. Sterry logged two hits in his Drive debut, while Chatham and Everlouis Lozada added two hits apiece.
The series continues on Saturday night in Greensboro at 7:00. Right-hander Kutter Crawford (0-1, 2.25) takes the mound for the Drive looking to continue his strong start to the 2018 season, and the Grasshoppers will counter with right-hander Brady Puckett (1-1, 1.97).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.