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Fraizer's second homer of game lifts Hoppers to walk-off win over Asheville

Matt Fraizer hits two two-run shots, moves into league lead in batting average and runs scored
Greensboro outfielder Matt Fraizer hit two home runs in the Hoppers series opener against Asheville, including a walk-off in the bottom of the ninth. (Jak Kerley/Greensboro Grasshoppers)
July 7, 2021

GREENSBORO ― Matthew Fraizer hit a two-run home run with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Greensboro Grasshoppers to a 7-5 walk-off victory over the Asheville Tourists at First National Bank Field on Tuesday night. Fraizer drove a 1-0 pitch from reliever Chandler Casey (3-1,

GREENSBORO ― Matthew Fraizer hit a two-run home run with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Greensboro Grasshoppers to a 7-5 walk-off victory over the Asheville Tourists at First National Bank Field on Tuesday night.

Fraizer drove a 1-0 pitch from reliever Chandler Casey (3-1, 4.55 ERA) over the fence in right-center field, a towering shot near the scoreboard to end the game and lift the Hoppers (32-23) to their fourth walk-off win of the season.

"It's always fun to win a game like that," Hoppers manager Kieran Mattison said, "and it's always a confidence boost for your guys."

It was Fraizer's second two-run home run of the game to virtually the same spot, the first coming in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Hoppers a 5-4 lead. Both times, Grant Koch had drawn a walk to set the stage for Fraizer.

Fraizer finished the game 3-for-5 with four RBIs, and he now leads the High-A East with a .329 batting average and 70 hits. He ranks second in the league with 39 runs scored, and he tied teammate Aaron Shackelford for second in the league with 13 home runs.

"He's been great," Mattison said. "You know, they pitch you a little tougher when they see you have good numbers like he has, but he's stayed within himself."

Fraizer had a 16-game hitting streak in early June, and Tuesday was his sixth consecutive multi-hit game. He's 14-for-28 during the current six-game streak. In the 30 games since June 1, Fraizer batted .358 (48-for-134) with 11 home runs, seven doubles and 27 RBIs.

"He's just continued to put up consistent at-bats," Mattison said. "He's always been a guy who works and works every day to get better. He's never satisfied, and he just wants to be the best he can be in everything he does. He asks a lot of questions, and you like to see that as a manager. I'll tell you what kind of guy he is: He was mad at himself that he didn't catch the ball that went off the wall for a triple tonight. He came off the field at the end of the inning and told me, 'I should've run straight to the wall and then tried to make the catch, because I was out of position trying to catch it (on the run) like that.' He has high expectations for himself."

Fraizer has played 33 games in left field this season, and he made his 13th start in center field Tuesday. He narrowly missed catching a drive by Asheville's C.J. Stubbs in the fourth inning that bounced off the fence.

Nick Gonzales ― who is rated by MLB Pipeline as the No. 1 prospect in Pittsburgh's farm system ― went 2-for-3 with a solo home run for the Hoppers, and Matt Gorski hit a long solo home run off a tent beyond the center-field fence.

Will Kobos (3-2, 2.48 ERA) picked up the win in relief, striking out six batters in the last two innings. The only hit Kobos allowed was Zach Bierman's first home run of the season, a solo shot with two outs in the top ninth that tied the game.

"You go out and win a game in that fashion, it's just guys picking up each other," Mattison said. "Kobos pitched really well and just made one mistake. You don't want him to go home and think about one bad pitch all night, and Fraizer picked him up. That's what it's all about from a team perspective."

Right-hander Quinn Priester, the Pirates' No. 2 prospect who will pitch for the NL team at the All-Star Futures Game this weekend, made the start and allowed two runs in five solid innings, striking out three.

The Hoppers and Tourists continue their series at noon Wednesday.

MACIAS MOVES UP: Fabricio Macias was promoted to Class-AAA Indianapolis over the weekend, and he went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter in his debut Tuesday night. Macias, a 23-year-old outfielder from Mexico, batted .316 with 38 RBIs in 44 games for the Hoppers and hit two grand slams in one game earlier this season. "This game is all about opportunity," Mattison said.

"This was a situation where there were some injuries and some things happening (in Indianapolis). It says a lot when you jump from High-A to Triple-A, but Macias is the guy who has been the most consistent. The organization saw what he's been doing and how he's been going about it, and he got rewarded. I don't know if it's temporary or if it's long-term. But I know he'll take advantage of his opportunity. We're always happy for guys when they move forward."

FATHERHOOD: Infielder Aaron Shackelford, who shares the team lead in home runs, was placed on the temporary inactive list and has missed the last five games. And for good reason.

"He's with family, celebrating the birth of his first child, a daughter," Mattison said. "He was so excited, and he's experiencing life from a different perspective now. It's an awesome experience, and I'm sure he'll be a great father."

Mattison expects Shackelford to rejoin the team Thursday.

ROSTER MOVES: Outfielder Chase Murray was promoted to Class-AA Altoona, while infielder Francisco Acuna was sent to Low-A Bradenton when the Hoppers activated infielder Andres Alvarez from the injured list.

"It's the next-man-up mentality," Mattison said. "Guys do their work, and when somebody moves, it creates an opportunity for someone else. Nothing changes on our end. That's the business. Guys do well, and you want them to move on. You do your work and try to get better, and that's the game plan no matter who is here. That's what it's all about."

In his career at the News & Record, journalist Jeff Mills won 10 national and 12 state writing awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors, the Society for Features Journalism, and the N.C. Press Association.