Nothing minor: fourth stop, Greensboro (A baseball)
Although August is usually associated with the "dog days of summer" (given hot HOT it can be), trust me, July can be just as hot. When it comes to the fourth stop of our "Nothing minor" series, the Greensboro Grasshoppers are certainly a hot spot.
With a team in the thick of a playoff race (56-34 at the time of the game on July 13, 2019), the team is in the middle of a 3-game series with the West Virginia Power (the A ball affiliate of the Seattle Mariners). As an aside, it helps that this evening is one with a regal theme, as it's "Princess Night", complete with favorite characters from Disney favorites ranging from Cinderella, Mulan, and others.
And yes, some outstanding baseball showcasing future stars known and yet to be discovered is part of the action on this hidden sports gem.
July 13, 2019: West Virginia Power vs Greensboro Grasshoppers (Pre-game)
About an hour before the first pitch, starting right-fielder (for the Grasshoppers) Jonah Davis joins me for some timely pre-game conversation. The University of California product provides some reflective insight on his individual growth and the team's development.
"Being consistent, keeping the same swing, and not trying to do too much at the plate (are things I'm focused on). I'm seeing the ball a lot better and swinging the bat better; my goal is to keep that same consistency throughout the season", he emphasizes.
As other players (from previous stadium stops/visits) note, having fun playing the game is a key focus area for Davis.
"Having friends on the team is huge in staying mentally focused and positive. Being confident and staying positive at the plate and in the field (in my first full year of professional baseball) is important. Your energy and attitude is important to your success", he shares.
A central theme he focuses on is you have to know you are going to (sometimes) fail.
"You're not going to get a hit (or home-run) every time or (as a pitcher) strike every batter out. You're going to go on cold streaks, but the main thing is to stay positive and keep working hard and know that hit or strikeout is going to come. Once you feel it one time, your confidence comes back and the next thing you know, you are playing the way you want to play", he advises.
(View the FULL pre-game interview below):
July 13, 2019: West Virginia Power vs Greensboro Grasshoppers (In-Game)
As hot an evening as it is, the offensive action between both teams is even hotter, as starters Steven Jennings (Greensboro) and Steven Moyers (West Virginia) last 5 innings, if that long.
After West Virginia takes a 1-0 lead on a second inning solo home-run by third-baseman Bobby Honeyman (who goes 2 for 5 with 2 RBI's), Greensboro bounces back in the bottom half of the inning. After Michael Gretler's double (third-baseman), a defensive miscue by Honeyman on a ball hit by designated hitter Zack Kone ties the game. Once catcher Zac Susi is hit by a pitch by Moyers, RBI singles by second-baseman Ji-Hwan Bae (who goes 3 for 4 with one RBI) and center-fielder Fabricio Macias (who goes 3 for 5 with one RBI) puts the Grasshoppers up 3-1.
A monster solo shot by Davis in the bottom of the 3rd inning pushes the lead to 4-1, and even though an RBI single in the top of the 4th inning by West Virginia second baseman Joseph Rosa (who goes 3 for 4) makes it a 4-2 game, the early action does not foreshadow things to come.
A 6 run 5th inning by the Power, capped off by a 3-run bomb (home-run) by first-baseman Onil Pena (who finishes 3 for 4 with a home-run and 4 runs batted in), pushes the Power lead to 8-4 and chases Jennings (4.2 IP, 5 earned runs) from the game. Greensboro responds with 2 runs in the bottom of the 5th inning thanks to a lead-off bunt by Davis (who finishes the game 3 for 5 with a home-run and 2 RBI's) and 2 key runs scored thanks to a passed ball (which forces Moyers out of the game pitching 5 innings and allowing 6 runs, 3 of which are earned) to cut the lead to 8-6, and adds 2 more runs in the bottom of the 6th to tie the game.
However, RBI single by Pena and center-fielder Charlie McConnell in the top of the 7th puts West Virginia back on top by a 10-8 margin. After the offensive eruption in the middle innings, the Power's bullpen does a steady enough job (4 IP, 2 runs allowed, and 6 strikeouts) to keep the Grasshoppers at bay.
Even though the outcome is not to Greensboro's favor, they understand the season is a long haul, which means more opportunities to keep growing and making their individual and collective seasonal goals happen.
It's another part of the game and steps towards what lies ahead.
Quick notes: To find out more about the team (schedule, tickets, and related information), please visit their website (click HERE to visit), as well as adding them on Facebook (Greensboro Grasshoppers), Instagram (@gsohoppers), and Twitter (@gsohoppers).