Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Hoppers sweep Renegades in pennant race doubleheader

Quinn Priester continues shutout streak, and Will Matthiessen has 4 RBIs to lead sweep as Greensboro pads playoff lead on Hudson Valley
Greensboro ace Quinn Priester has won his last five decisions, and he has pitched 12 consecutive scoreless innings. (Jak Kerley/Greensboro Grasshoppers)
September 3, 2021

GREENSBORO ― The games dwindle away, one by one. And the Greensboro Grasshoppers get closer and closer to a spot in the postseason. Will Matthiessen homered and drove in four runs in the opener, and ace Quinn Priester struck out six in six shutout innings in the second game, leading

GREENSBORO ― The games dwindle away, one by one. And the Greensboro Grasshoppers get closer and closer to a spot in the postseason.

Will Matthiessen homered and drove in four runs in the opener, and ace Quinn Priester struck out six in six shutout innings in the second game, leading the Grasshoppers to a doubleheader sweep of the Hudson Valley Renegades in the last Thirsty Thursday of the season at First National Bank Field.

Nick Gonzales tripled, doubled and drove in two runs for the Hoppers in a 10-7 victory to start the day. Priester and reliever Colin Selby combined on a five-hitter in a 2-0 victory to finish the sweep.

Greensboro (67-38) moved 3 1/2 games ahead of North Division leader Hudson Valley (63-41) in the race for the second-best overall record in the High-A East.

The Hoppers are 8-2 in their last 10 games and have won six in a row. They trail first-place Bowling Green (72-33) by five games in the North Division standings with just 15 games left in the regular season.

The two teams with the best records ― regardless of division ― qualify for the best-of-five High-A East championship series. Greensboro plays Hudson Valley nine times in the final 15 games, three at First National Bank Field this weekend and then a six-game series in Wappingers Falls near Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to close out the season.

The championship series for the 12-team league begins 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. 25, 25 and 26 if necessary.

The Hoppers continued their push for the playoffs with a comeback victory in Thursday's opener. Trailing 4-2, Greensboro scored eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to win.

Jonah Davis tied the game with a towering two-run home run to start the rally. Davis turned on a 3-1 pitch from reliever Matt Minnick (4-2, 4.26 ERA) and hit the ball over Eugene Street and onto a balcony in the apartment building beyond right field, a shot electronically measured at 422 feet with an exit velocity of 111 mph.

Gonzales, a second basemen rated by MLB Pipeline as Pittsburgh's No. 4 prospect, broke the tie with a two-run double. He finished the game 2-for-4 to wrap up a remarkable three-game run in which he was 9-for-16 with seven extra-base hits and 17 RBIs.

Aaron Shackelford hit his 20th home run of the season, and Matthiessen finished 2-for-3 with his 13th home run and four RBIs.

Priester (7-3, 2.67 ERA), a right-hander rated by MLB Pipeline as the Pirates' No. 2 prospect, won the second game with six strong innings, allowing no runs on four hits and three walks, striking out six.

Priester hasn't lost since June 1, and is 5-0 in 13 starts since then. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 12 innings, striking out 19 in that span, and he's held opponents to a .216 batting average this season.

Selby worked a scoreless seventh inning for his fifth save of the season.

Greensboro scored it's runs on Yoyner Fajardo's RBI grounder in the second inning, and Lolo Sanchez's run-scoring sacrifice fly in the third.


  • Greensboro's Nick Gonzales, the seventh overall pick in the 2020 draft, went 0-for-3 in the second game with three strikeouts. He was called out twice on borderline pitches that TrackMan software registered as out of the strike zone. Even so, the 22-year-old second baseman has hit safely in 19 of his last 22 games. His .303 batting average ranks third in the High-A East, and his .938 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 .365 (61-for-167) 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 52-23 (.693 win percentage).
  • Third baseman Jared Triolo leads the High-A East with 112 hits, and he ranks second with 72 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 20 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 .303. Fraizer, who was promoted to Class-AA Altoona on Aug. 5, has batted .300 with 12 extra-base hits in 24 games with the Curve.
  • Outfielder Lolo Sanchez leads the league with 50 walks and 29 stolen bases. 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 in Greensboro. But in 12 games since then, Davis is 12-for-34 (.353) with five home runs, two doubles, eight walks and 13 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.