Bill on Baseball: Hoppers Continue Solid Hitting in 11-1 Win
By Bill Hass
With three of their best hitters promoted to Bradenton, it was only natural to believe the Hoppers might have some trouble getting hits and scoring runs.
That hasn't turned out to be the case. Even with Rodolfo Castro, Lolo Sanchez and Mason Martin gone, the lineup has continued to rake. The latest example was an 11-1 pasting of Hagerstown Wednesday afternoon.
That wrapped up a six-game homestand in which the Hoppers churned out 52 runs. They hit five homers Wednesday to follow the four they thumped Tuesday night.
Although Fabricio Macias was the hottest hitter, going 16-for-28 (.571 average) during the homestand, production came throughout the lineup. Five different players hit homers Wednesday, topped by Justin Harrer's three-run shot, his third of the season. Solo homers came from Macias (8th), Jonah Davis (8th), Zac Susi (2nd) and Jack Herman (9th).
Connor Kaiser added three hits while Macias, Davis, Herman, Harrer and Zack Kone had two apiece.
The Hoppers now carry a .253 team batting, average, best in the South Atlantic League by six points. They also lead with 487 RBIs and 545 runs and are second with 102 homers. And although they didn't have any stolen bases Wednesday, they lead that category, too, with 116.
Macias, who hit just .132 in April, has been on a tear since, well over .300 for the months of May, June and July.
"He's very consistent with his routine in batting practice," said hitting coach Chris Petersen. "He stays within himself so there's no difference between batting practice and the game. He's hitting line drives that carry and he's swinging at good pitches and not missing them."
Petersen didn't know that the team had become ?1 in the league in batting average.
"To me, that's not important," he said. "It's great for them, but I don't even know anyone's batting average. I can tell you who hit the ball hard and how many times they did it. The approach we take is to make consistent, solid contact.
"I don't care who's up in any situation. They're all tough outs and they're taking ownership of their at-bats and competing every time."
On the pitching side, Osvaldo Bido started and went five innings to earn his 11th win. That puts him in a tie with six others for the most wins by a Hoppers pitcher. Michael King was the last to do it in 2017.
Cody Smith threw three scoreless innings in relief. Will Gardner gave up two walks in the ninth but ended the game by getting Kyle Marinconz to line into a double play.
There was a massive shift in the infield when shortstop Ji-Hwan Bae was removed from the game after the fifth inning. Connor Kaiser moved from second base to short, Zack Kone went from third base to second, Luke Mangieri moved from first base to third and catcher Grant Koch entered the game and took over at first. Mangieri handled two ground balls without a problem, while Koch made a nice dig-out of a low throw and also tracked down a foul ball near the Hagerstown dugout.
NOTES: The Hoppers head on the road to Augusta for four games, starting Thursday ... After a day off, they return home on July 23 for seven games against Asheville and Kannapolis ... Suns starter Tomas Alastre took one for the team by giving up eight runs in four innings ... His record dropped to 3-10 with a 6.59 ERA.
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