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Hoppers run winning streak to 7 games in pennant race

Andres Alvarez and Jonah Davis hit home runs as Hoppers beat Hudson Valley to push lead to 4.5 games
Greensboro Grasshoppers infielder Andres Alvarez (Jak Kerley/Greensboro Grasshoppers)
September 4, 2021

GREENSBORO ― The bunt was a beauty, a slow roller down the third-base line and a sure base hit if only the ball stayed fair. Instead, it trickled foul and Andres Alvarez had to trudge back to the batter's box to try again. Two pitches later, Alvarez drove a fly

GREENSBORO ― The bunt was a beauty, a slow roller down the third-base line and a sure base hit if only the ball stayed fair.

Instead, it trickled foul and Andres Alvarez had to trudge back to the batter's box to try again.

Two pitches later, Alvarez drove a fly ball over the fence in left field for a solo home run that held up as the difference in the Greensboro Grasshoppers' 3-2 victory over the Hudson Valley Renegades in a key High-A East matchup Friday night at First National Bank Field.

Jonah Davis hit a towering two-run home run in the third inning to give the Hoppers a 2-1 lead. It was the second straight day Davis hit a tape-measure homer, this one soaring over the right-field fence and landing across Eugene Street. An electronic TrackMan estimate measured the distance at 421 feet with a 110 mph exit velocity.

Greensboro (68-38) has won seven games in a row and nine of its last 11, and the Hoppers have won the first four games of their final homestand of the regular-season, taking a 4 1/2-game lead over Hudson Valley (63-42) in the race for the second-best record in the league.

The Hoppers are closing in on a spot in the High-A East championship series.

Greensboro trails first-place Bowling Green (73-33) by five games in the South Division standings, with just 14 games remaining in the regular season. The Hoppers play eight of those games against North Division leader Hudson Valley, two more here in Greensboro and a six-game series in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., near Poughkeepsie to close out the season.

The two teams with the best records ― regardless of division ― qualify for the 12-team league's best-of-five championship series. The playoffs begin with two games at the lower seed's home park Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 21 and 22. Thursday is a travel day to the top seed's ballpark, with games Sept. 24, 25 and 26 if necessary.

Grant Ford (8-4, 5.90 ERA) picked up the win with 3 1/3 stong inning of relief, allowing one run and striking out four. Enmanuel Mejia, pitched the ninth to earn his first save, striking out Anthony Volpe and Everson Pereira to strand two baserunners and end the game.

Carmen Mlodzinski, a right-hander rated by MLB Pipeline as the No. 10 prospect in Pittsburgh's farm system, started and allowed an unearned run in 2 2/3 innings. Mlodzinski was making his fourth start since coming off the injured list after missing a month with tightness in his shoulder, and he threw 49 pitches before being lifted for reaching his pitch-count.

Alvarez came into the game as a pinch-runner for lead-off hitter Liover Peguero, who beat out an infield single in the third inning but twisted an ankle as he crossed first base on the play. Alvarez was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Jared Triolo's two-out double.


  • Second baseman Nick Gonzales, the seventh overall pick in the 2020 draft and a player ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Pirates' No. 4 prospect, went 1-for-4 Friday. Gonzales has hit safely in 20 of his last 23 games. His .302 batting average ranks second in the High-A East, and his .932 OPS ranks second. ... Gonzales broke a finger in May and went on the injured list, and he was batting just .214 on July 15. In 39 games since then, he has hit .363 (62-for-171) with 13 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs and 38 RBIs.
  • The Hoppers have now won or split 17 of their 18 six-game series this season. Since splitting their first five series of the season, the Grasshoppers are 53-23 (.697 win percentage).
  • Third baseman Jared Triolo leads the High-A East with 113 hits, and he ranks second with 74 RBIs and a .305 batting average. Triolo was batting just .217 on June 2, but in 73 games since then he has batted .331 with 21 doubles, 12 home runs, 57 RBIs and 22 stolen bases.
  • The Hoppers have the top three hitters in the High-A East among players with enough plate appearances to qualify: No. 1 Matt Fraizer at .314; No. 2 Jared Triolo at .305; and No. 3 Nick Gonzales at .302. Fraizer, who was promoted to Class-AA Altoona on Aug. 5, has batted .287 with 12 extra-base hits in 25 games with the Curve.
  • Outfielder Lolo Sanchez leads the league with 29 stolen bases and ranks second with 50 walks. In his last 20 games, Sanchez has batted .351 (26-for-74) with 19 runs scored.
  • Center fielder Jonah Davis was sent down from Class-AA Altoona on Aug. 5 and went just 2-for-25 in his first eight games. But in 13 games since then, Davis is 13-for-38 (.342) with six home runs, two doubles, eight walks and 15 RBIs.

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.