Today's Preview: The Grasshoppers (A, Marlins) welcome the Tourists (A, Rockies) to First National Bank Field for the first time in 2018 - the first of two series in the Second Half between the two squads with both coming in Greensboro. The Hoppers played a pair of series at McCormick
Today's Preview: The Grasshoppers (A, Marlins) welcome the Tourists (A, Rockies) to First National Bank Field for the first time in 2018 - the first of two series in the Second Half between the two squads with both coming in Greensboro. The Hoppers played a pair of series at McCormick Field during the First Half, dropping five of six games against the Tourists. Both Greensboro and Asheville remain within striking distance of the top of their respective divisions, with the Hoppers 2.5 games back in the Northern Division while the Tourists are 1.0 game back in third place in the Southern Division.
Hoppers Hurler: Colton Hock, 22, makes his third start and 23rd appearance of the season as he faces Asheville for the second time this season. The reliever has made spot starts in the second games of two doubleheaders, on April 25 at Hickory and June 13 vs. Hickory, going 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA (4 ER/6.2 IP) in two starts compared to 8-3 with a 2.33 ERA (12 ER/46.1 IP) in relief. He leads the SAL and is tied for ninth in all of Minor League Baseball in wins (9) and is one of only two pitchers to have at least nine wins while working primarily in relief (along with Colorado Springs' Nick Ramirez). Hock struggled in his only outing against the Tourists, giving up five runs in one relief inning, one of only three games in which he's allowed multiple earned runs, on May 11 at McCormick Field. He has not allowed a run in 14 of his 22 appearances this season, including 13 of his last 16 since May 4. The Marlins selected Hock in the fourth round of the June 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of Stanford.
About Last Night: The Grasshoppers rallied to tie the game in the eighth and scored an extra-inning walk-off win over the Intimidators, 5-4 in 10 innings, on Friday. With a runner starting extra innings on second base under Minor League Baseball's new pace-of-play rules, the Intimidators quickly pushed the base runner across the plate in the top of the 10th. Nolan Brown laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving pinch-runner JJ Muno from second to third base. Luis Curbelo followed with an RBI-single for a 4-3 lead before Craig Dedelowgrounded into an inning-ending double play. Trailing by one in the bottom of the 10th, Greensboro capitalized on a Kannapolis error to tie the game. With Rodrigo Ayarza opening the inning on second, Thomas Jones laid down a sac-bunt that Intimidators catcher Michael Hickman threw away, allowing Ayarza to score the tying run. Jose Devers moved Jones to third on a sac-bunt. Two batters later, Will Allen chopped a ball into the infield where pitcher Aron McRee deflected the ball as Tate Blackman attempted to field the grounder, allowing Jones to score the winning run. Allen finished 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI while Jones paced the offense with a 3-for-4 night and two runs scored. Hoppers reliever Sean Guenther (2-0) earned the win with 5.0 quiet innings, striking out two batters while allowing one unearned run on two hits. McRee (3-3) suffered the loss, allowing two unearned runs in the 10th. The Hoppers trailed 3-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth when the top of order jump-started a game-tying 2-run rally, eventually forcing extra innings. Jones and Devers led off the frame with back-to-back singles. Tristan Pompey followed with a double to cash Jones, chasing Intimidators reliever Joe Mockbee from the game. Allen welcomed the new pitcher, McRee, to the mound with a sac-fly to plate Devers, tying the game, 3-3.
Walk Off Winners: Greensboro scored its first walk-off win on Friday since May 4 when they topped the Greenville Drive, 9-8, when Zach Sullivan's game-winning hit capped a 6-run come-from-behind win. The Hoppers trailed the Intimidators 3-0 on Friday before rallying to tie the game in the eighth and scoring two runs in the bottom of the 10th for the win. The Hoppers are now 13-5 in games decided in the final at-bats, including 4-2 in walk-off games.
Extra! Extra!: Greensboro improved to 5-1 in extra-inning games in 2018 with their first extra-inning game at home all season on Friday. Greensboro last won in extra-innings on July 8 at Lexington with an 11-10 victory in 11 innings, the team's longest game of the season thanks in part to the new pace of play rules throughout Minor League Baseball that begin extra innings with a runner on second base.
Breaking Out The Big Guenthers: Sean Guenther tossed 5.0 relief innings of near-scoreless ball to earn the win in Friday's 10-inning game against the Intimidators. The only run Guenther allowed came in the form of the extra-inning runner that opened the top of the 10th at second base, resulting in an unearned run. Guenther set a new season-long outing for a Grasshoppers relief pitcher with 5.0 innings of work. Previously, Colton Hock - Saturday night's starting pitcher - worked 4.0 relief innings on three occasions during the 2018 season: earning a relief win with 4.0 scoreless innings on April 18 at Lakewood; earning a relief win with 4.0 scoreless innings on May 27 at Hagerstown; and allowing one run over 4.0 frames in a relief win at Hickory on June 30.
Where There's Will, There's A Way: Will Allen finished Friday's game 2-for-4 with two RBI and a double while driving in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning. He has 18 RBI in 24 games with the Hoppers and raised his average to .296 (24-81) while upping his slugging percentage to .605 this season.