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Hillcats fall in pitchers’ duel, 2-1

lynchburg hillcatsThe Lynchburg Hillcats lost to the Potomac Nationals 2-1 tonight. The offense was unable to back up Ryan Hinson who limited the Nationals to two runs, only one of which was earned, over six innings. The only Hillcat run came in the sixth inning when Levi Hyams went deep to right field. It was his first home run as a Hillcat and first since homering in the South Atlantic All-Star Game on June 20.

Hinson spent the last two and a half seasons pitching for the Wichita Wingnuts, an independent professional team in the American Association. He posted a league-best 1.53 ERA through 10 starts with the Wingnuts. Last week, he got the call back to affiliated baseball as the Braves purchased his contract. He was supposed to pitch the night he found out about the Braves, so he was scratched from his start last Thursday. He last pitched in a game Saturday July 6. A week and a half later he gave up 10 hits to the Nationals (13-10, 55-37) but induced four double plays, didn’t walk anyone and struck out three in a quality start for Lycnhburg.

The Hillcats (7-15, 43-48) only scored one run behind Hinson’s effort. Hyams went deep in the sixth inning for their only run. They were retired in order four times. The other six hits on the night for the Hillcats were singles. Hyams finished his night 1-for-4. Matt Lipka was the only ‘Cat with multiple hits going 2-for-4.

Potomac’s first run scored in the fifth inning. Adrian Sanchez led off the frame with a double. He later scored from third as Randolph Oduber grounded into one of five double plays turned by the Hillcats tonight. With the scored tied 1-1, the Nationals regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Caleb Ramsey reached on an error. Third baseman Kyle Kubitza threw high to first base committing his 18th error of the season. The next batter Michael Taylor doubled to right center field to score Ramsey. Taylor finished the night 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles.

Blake Schwartz left the game after six innings for the Nationals. He gave up just one run five hits, walked no one, and struck out three. His bullpen backed him up with three scoreless innings, although it got interesting in the ninth.

Robert Benincasa came in to close the game. Josh Elander singled to start the ninth. A fly out and a ground out left Elander at second base with two away. Benincasa then walked David Rohm and Shawn McGill to load the bases. Elmer Reyes came up next and grounded into a 5-4 fielder’s choice to end the game. Benincasa held on for his sixth save in six chances.

Schwartz (7-3) earned the win, and Hinson (0-1) swallowed the loss.

Game two of the four game series is set for tomorrow night at 7:05pm. RHP A.J. Holland (4-5, 4.52) will start for the Hillcats against RHP Brian Rauh (1-1, 3.96) on the mound for the Nationals. The Hillcats On-Deck Show powered by Honda/Suzuki of Lynchburg will go on the air at 6:40pm. Listen live to Erik Wilson with the call on 97.9 FM The Planet and online at lynchburg-hillcats.com

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