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Hoppers Clinch Spot in High-A East Championship Series

September 17, 2021 - High-A East League (High-A East) - Greensboro Grasshoppers News Release


WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. ― The Greensboro Grasshoppers are officially a playoff team.

Matt Gorski hit a two-run home run, Will Matthiessen drove in two runs and right-hander Steven Jennings pitched four scoreless innings of relief as Greensboro beat the Hudson Valley Renegades 5-2 at Dutchess Stadium on Thursday night to clinch a berth in the High-A East championship series.

Now a year after no baseball at all, we get extra baseball next week.

The second-seeded Hoppers (73-44) will host the top-seeded Bowling Green Hot Rods (80-36) in Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-five championship series on Tuesday and Wednesday at First National Bank Field in Greensboro. Next Thursday is a travel day to Bowling Green, which hosts Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) Sept. 24-26.

The Hot Rods and Hoppers finished first and second in the South Division, but the two teams with the best records in the entire 12-team league ― regardless of division ― earned playoff berths.

Greensboro eliminated North Division champ Hudson Valley (69-48) by rallying late from a 2-0 deficit Thursday.

All nine batters in the Hoppers lineup finished with at least one hit, and Greensboro's offense finally broke through with four runs in the top of the seventh inning.

Clay Aguilar had pitched six scoreless innings for Hudson Valley, but the Hoppers roughed up reliever Freicer Perez (0-1, 6.60 ERA) in the seventh.

Jared Triolo walked on a 3-2 pitch to start the rally, and he went from first to third on Lolo Sanchez's line-drive single. Matthiessen hit an RBI sacrifice fly, and Gorski gave Greensboro the lead with his 17th home run of the season, a two-out two-run shot over the wall in left-center field.

Aaron Shackelford doubled and scored on Andres Alvarez's RBI double, knocking Perez out of the game.

Jennings (4-1, 4.50 ERA) made the runs stand up. The 22-year-old right-hander ― who has pitched out of the bullpen for High-A Greensboro, Low-A Bradenton and Class-AA Altoona this season ― faced just one batter over the minimum, striking out six in four scoreless innings.

Hard-throwing Colin Selby struck out four in two scoreless innings to finish the game and earn his sixth save.

Matthiessen drove in an insurance run with a single in the eighth inning.

Lead-off hitter Liover Peguero, a shortstop rated by MLB Pipeline as the No. 5 prospect in Pittsburgh's farm system, went 3-for-5. Alvarez and catcher Blake Sabol had two hits apiece.

The Hoppers wrap up their regular season with three more games against the Renegades tomorrow through Sunday.

Notes

The Grasshoppers are playing their 20th six-game series of the season. They have won or split 17 series this season. Since splitting their first five series for a 15-15 record, Greensboro is 58-29 (.667 win percentage).

Greensboro is 37-20 in road games this season, the fewest road losses of any team in the High-A East. Hudson Valley is 37-20 at home.

Greensboro is 21-12 this season against teams that are .500 or above. Hudson Valley, which has played the weakest schedule in the league, is just 2-7 against .500-or-better teams (all nine of those games against the Hoppers).

Left fielder Lolo Sanchez stayed hot, going 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Sanchez leads the league with 30 stolen bases, 55 walks and 79 runs scored. In his last 31 games, Sanchez has batted .350 (41-for-117) with 30 runs scored.

Third baseman Jared Triolo went 1-for-5 with a walk Thursday. He leads the High-A East with 125 hits and 28 doubles. He ranks second with a .303 batting average and third with 77 RBIs. Triolo was batting just .217 on June 2, but in 83 games since then he has batted .325 with 25 doubles, 12 home runs, 62 RBIs and 23 stolen bases.

Second baseman Nick Gonzales went 1-for-5 as the DH Thursday. The seventh overall pick in the 2020 draft and a player ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Pirates' No. 4 prospect, Gonzales was the High-A East's player of the month in August. Gonzales got off to a slow start when he went on the injured list with a broken finger in May, and he was batting just .214 on July 15. In his 48 games since then, Gonzales has raised his batting average to .302 by hitting .353 (71-for-201) with 16 doubles, three triples, 12 home runs and 42 RBIs.

Hoppers players rank 1-2-3 in the race for the High-A East batting title. Matt Fraizer batted .314 in 75 games before being promoted to Class-AA Altoona (where he has hit .277 in 34 games). Triolo is second at .303, followed by Gonzales at .302. ... Fraizer (.979) and Gonzales (.942) rank 1-2 in OPS.

First baseman Will Matthiessen has hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games, and he's batting .300 (18-for-60) with three homers, 16 RBIs and 18 runs scored in that stretch.

In his last 18 games, lefty-hitting catcher/DH Blake Sabol is 22-for-67 (.328) with five home runs, five doubles, 14 runs scored 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.


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