Close call goes other way, Lynchburg Hillcats fall
A close call came back to haunt the Lynchburg Hillcats in a 6-5 loss to the Frederick Keys tonight. Matt Lipka tied the game 5-5 in the fifth for the Hillcats with a two-run, bases loaded single that went about 330 feet before bouncing back into the field of play. The umpires said it hit off the top of the wall, while the Hillcats contested it bounced off the second wall and back (making it a home run). The play stood as called, and the Hillcats went on to lose by one, while Lipka and Cory Brownsten went stranded on the bases.
The Keys jumped out to an early lead scoring in each of the first four innings, starting with two in the first. Zane Chavez and Nicky Delmonico each singled in runs. In the second inning, Sammie Starr doubled home Glynn Davis. Then, Delmonico homered for the second time in the series in the third frame. It was a solo shot barely clearing the right field wall. The Keys led 4-0.
Lynchburg’s offense meanwhile was stagnant. Frederick’s starter Tyler Wilson sat down his first 11 batters in order. Then, with two outs in the top of the fourth, William Beckwith launched his third home run of the season to break up the perfect game, no hitter, and shutout in one fell swoop. The Hillcats still trailed 4-1.
Starr added to the Frederick lead with his second RBI-double of the night in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The Hillcats then waged there comeback in the top of the fifth. Wilson walked two Hillcats sandwiched around a David Rohm single to load the bases with nobody out. Elmer Reyes then singled through the left side of the infield to bring in Kyle Kubitza from third. The bases remained loaded for Brownsten, who drew the third walk of the inning to plate another run. Next up was Lipka who launched a deep fly ball down the left field line. Keys left fielder Mikey Planeta went racing after the ball, leaping off the warning track and crashing into the wall. The ball missed his glove hit a wall and rebounded into left field. Lipka thought he had just hit a grandslam, but no signal came from the umpires. Two runs came into score, Brownsten advanced to third base, and Lipka, who was held up by the other runners waiting to see if a catch was going to made, advanced to second on throw home from the outfield. Manager Luis Salazar came out to argue with the home plate umpire, pleading that the ball hit off the billboards beyond the left field wall and came back, but his argument did no good.
Wilson was then relieved by Matt Bischoff, who induced a groundout to third base holding the runners at second and third. He then struck out the next two batters to strand Lipka and Brownsten. Bischoff ended up retiring 10 straight Hillcats batters in 3.1 perfect innings of relief.
The game was still tied 5-5 entering the bottom of the eighth inning. Matt Chaffee, who had thrown a scoreless seventh, came back out for the eighth. He walked the first batter, and then a sacrifice bunt moved the go-ahead run into scoring position. Starr, the runner, then stole third, and the throw from the catcher Brownsten went into left field. Starr jogged home to score the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run. Two pitches later, Chavez singled to center field, so the run would be earned. In fact, the Hillcats committed four errors on the night, but none of them caused any unearned runs.
The Hillcats went down in order in the ninth, losing their second game in a row, their first two-game losing streak of the season.
Zach Fowler (1-1) earned the win as he finished the eighth inning and pitched through the ninth for the Keys. Chaffee (1-2) suffered the loss.
The Keys (7-4) took over first place in the Northern Division with the win, while the Hillcats (6-5) drop into a tie for second.
Game three is set for 7pm tomorrow night at Harry Grove Stadium. The Hillcats will look to avoid the sweep with RHP A.J. Holland (0-0) on the mound against LHP Tim Berry (0-0) for the Keys. The Hillcats On-Deck Show powered by Honda/Suzuki of Lynchburg will go on the air at 6:40pm. Join Erik Wilson for all the play-by-play action on 97.9 FM The Planet and online at lynchburg-hillcats.com