LAKEWOOD – Chase Austin hit a solo shot out to left to start the eleventh inning, and the Greensboro Grasshoppers took the first of a four game series against the BlueClaws 4-3 Tuesday night.
It was Austin’s 14th homer of the season. Lakewood managed to get the tying run to second in the bottom half of the inning but stranded him there. Sandy Rosario (7-2) threw two scoreless innings for the win, while Ebelin Lugo (5-3) was saddled with the loss.
The win moves the Hoppers to within five games of first place Lakewood. Hickory lost Tuesday, so the Claws lead atop the division stays at three-and-a-half games.
Greensboro (25-25) got on the board first on an RBI single by Jose Torres in the second, but the lead was short-lived.
The BlueClaws (30-20) plated two in the bottom of the second thanks to some wildness from Hoppers starter Edgar Olmos. Olmos walked lead-off hitter Jeremy Barnes, then hit Michael Dabbs. One out later Korby Mintken walked, and Leandro Castro delivered a two run single to make it a 2-1 game.
That would be the last hit Olmos would allow over the next 4 1/3 innings. After walking four and hitting two through two innings, the Greensboro lefty retired twelve straight, seven via strike out.
The Grasshoppers offense struck in the sixth against reliever Kyle Carr. Jeff Corsalettti singled with one out, Kyle Jensen singled, and Kyle Skipworth reached on an error by Jeremy Barnes to load the bases. Chad Cregar then came through with a two-run base hit to put Greensboro up 3-2.
The Claws managed to get the tying run to second with no outs in the seventh and eighth innings, but stranded that runner each time. When presented the same opportunity in the ninth Lakewood capitalized.
Barnes drew a walk to start the inning and advanced to second on a passed ball. That set the stage for Michael Dabbs, who doubled down the left field line to tie the game at three. Reliever Alejandro Ramos made it out of the rest of the inning unscathed, but the BlueClaws stayed alive to force extras.
The BlueClaws bullpen had to cover nine innings after starter Brody Colvin left the game at the start of the third. Wes Long hit a one-hopper that bounced off Colvin and shook him up. He had to leave the game although he walked off the field under his own power.
Wednesday at 7:05 pm RHP Trevor May (5-2, 2.44) will be opposed by RHP Erick Carillo (5-5, 4.44).
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