Wilmington tops Lynchburg, 7-5
The Hillcats fell down 4-0 early, but battled to take the lead on a Braeden Schlehuber three run bomb. However, the bullpen couldn’t hold off the Blue Rocks offense late. An emotional game led to two Blue Rocks coaches being ejected, but the Rocks came away with 7-5 win.
Greg Billo got off to a hot start to his day on the mound for the Blue Rocks by striking out three of the first four batters he faced. His offense was able to thank him with two runs in the top of the second.
The Rocks got going with Dimasther Delgado walking Roman Hernandez and giving up a single to Kevin David. Alex McClure responded with his second double in as many days that scored both runners to give the Rocks their first runs since the first game of the series.
The bottom of the Wilmington line up was productive in the top of the third as well. After Brian Fletcher doubled and Brett Eibner walked, it was David’s turn to get a two RBI double. He hit his out to right-center field as well and Fletcher and Franco scored to make it 4-0.
The top of the third started with last night’s hero, Robby Hefflinger, reaching on a walk. Braeden Schlehuber singled to move Hefflinger to second. Kyle Rose grounded in to a fielder’s choice to shortstop McClure. Rose was able to beat out the throw to put runners at the corners with one out. Matt Lipka got his third RBI of the home stand on a deep fly ball out to center. Hefflinger trotted home to cut the lead to 4-1.
Bello looked stellar through his first six, while Delgado struggled and eventually was replaced in fifth. It wasn’t until the seventh inning that Hillcats would expose the Bello and the Blue Rocks. Tommy La Stella started the inning of with a single and Chris Garcia added his first of two walks on the night. Bello buckled down and struck out Edward Salcedo and Matt Weaver. Hefflinger came through with a clutch single that La Stella was able to score on to cut the lead in half. With two strikes on him, Schlehuber blasted his fifth homer of the season and sent the crowd in a frenzy.
The Hillcats’ 5-4 lead wouldn’t last long. Ronan Pacheco entered in the top of the eighth inning and immediately walked Geulin Beltre. Hernandez tried to sacrafice himself, but Pacheco’s barehanded throw whizzed by La Stella covering first, Beltre raced to third. Two batters later, McClure grounded into a force play that scored Beltre to even it a five apiece. The Blue Rocks tried to keep the pressure on the ‘Cats in the inning, McClure attempted to steal second and the throw beat him by a few steps, but shortstop Nick Ahmed dropped the ball. Ahmed was able to recover the ball and keep the tag on McClure. Base Umpire John Bacon made the call to the chagrin of Blue Rocks Manager Vance Wilson. The argument carried through the to bottom half of the inning, Wilson was eventually tossed.
Lipka led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a ground out, but acting Manager/Pitching Coach Steve Luebber was still irate about a previous play where Lipka showed bunt and pulled back. The pitch was called a ball by Bacon on an appeal. Luebber took exception and was tossed after giving more than his share of his opinion to Bacon. The Hillcats couldn’t produce a run in frame.
Chasen Shreve was called to the mound in the top of the ninth in the 5-5 game. His outing was a rare rough one, starting the frame off with a Whit Merrifield hit. Angel Franco’s sac bunt got Merrifield to second before Cheslor Cuthbert walked. Eibner was tonight’s hero with a monster shot over Lipka’s head in center off the top of the way. Merrifield and Cuthbert would score the final two runs to give Wilmington the 7-5 win.
John Keck (2-1) got the win for his 1.1 innings of work. He walked one and allowed zero hits. Chasen Shreve (2-1) picked up the loss. He went 1.0 inning, allowed two runs on two hits. Shreve also walked one. Nick Rogers got his fifth save of the year.
The series finale is tomorrow at 6:05 pm. Gates will open tomorrow at 5:00 pm at Lynchburg City Stadium. The Braves 13th rated prospect, J.R. Graham (4-1, 2.84) will start for the Hillcats. Yordano Ventura (1-3, 3.24) will toe the rubber for the Blue Rocks. If you can’t make it to the park, tune in and listen live to all the action on 105.5 FM KD Country and online at lynchburg-hillcats.com starting with the Hillcats On-Deck Show coming on the air at 5:40pm with Erik Wilson and Mike Viso.