With every game crucial to its playoff hopes, Greenville picked up a big win Wednesday night, defeating Greensboro 7-0 at Fluor Field.
A crowd of 5,218 fans watched the Drive overcome what has been a familiar pattern in home games — early scores with silent bats the rest of the game. In this one, Greenville followed its first-inning runs with more in the third and fourth.
The win keeps the Drive alive in the hunt for a South Atlantic League playoff spot. Its top competition for the Southern Division postseason berth, Asheville, lost to Savannah, allowing Greenville to closed to 11/2 games behind in the wild-card chase.
Three Greenville pitchers — starter Jake Drehoff (3-1) and relievers Jeffry Fernandez and Ryan Harris — combined for the Drive’s second shutout in three games and eighth of the season.
Greensboro (19-39) struggled to find any offense against Drehoff. He was efficient, needing just 65 pitches to get through six innings. He shut out the Grasshoppers while giving up two hits and no walks and striking out four.
“It was his best outing of the season,” Greenville manager Darren Fenster said of Drehoff. “We challenged him to really go after hitters, and he’s taken to that. What we saw tonight is what we’ve seen out of him probably the last couple of months in terms of approach.”
“After the first inning, I was just trying to stay aggressive and keep on putting up zeros,” said Drehoff. “I was just aggressive with my fastball.”
As on Tuesday, Greenville (27-31) struck for runs on its first at-bat, starting with the second pitch of the inning.
Yoan Moncada sent that pitch to the balcony of one of the condos beyond center field. It was his eighth home run of the season.
Michael Chavis followed with a double. After an out and a walk to Andrew Benintendi, the Grasshoppers became generous. They committed back-to-back errors. The second came on a ground ball J. T. Watkins hit to short. The error allowed Chavis and Benintendi to score for a 3-0 Drive lead.
“Offensively, really good job of just taking advantage of some mistakes on their end,” Fenster said. “When you do that, you’re obviously putting yourself in a real good position.”
Benintendi singled in the third inning for his first base hit at Fluor Field. The Arkansas product and 2015 first-round draft pick then stole second base, went to third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch.
Greenville extended its lead to 7-0 with three more scores in the fourth.
After Bryan Hudson singled and Moncada walked, Chavis hit a ground-rule double to drive in Hudson. Devers walked to load the bases. Left fielder Austen Smith then dropped Benintendi’s fly ball, enabling Moncada and Chavis to score.