Early Gonzalez homer keys Lynchburg Hillcats
Lynchburg (14-15, 46-50) rebounded from a 1-8 road trip with a series win over the Woodpeckers (13-15, 44-53).
In the first inning, Tyler Freeman and Wilbis Santiago each singled their way aboard. Oscar Gonzalez then crushed a ball over the left field fence for his eighth homer of the season, plating three to give the Hillcats a 3-0 advantage.
Fayetteville struck back in the second when Cory Julks hit a solo homer of his own to cut the deficit to 3-1.
In the second frame, Mitch Reeves and Jodd Carter drew back-to-back walks. Steven Kwan lined into a double play to erase Reeves, and then Freeman singled and Santiago was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Carter scored from third on a wild pitch, then an error by the starter Luis Garcia (Loss, 3-2) allowed González to reach base and scored Freeman. The Hillcats led 5-1 after the second inning came to a close.
The Woodpeckers got a rally going in the fifth inning. Ross Adolph drew a walk and was then retired when Jeremy Pena got on base with a fielder’s choice. Jacob Meyers was hit by a pitch, and Chandler Taylor singled to score Peña.
In the seventh, Meyers hit a one-out single. Jake Adams got on board when Santiago committed an error at second base, and a single by Julks pushed Meyers across home plate to make it 5-3 Hillcats.
Freeman continued his strong contest at the plate when he roped a double to lead off the eighth. Santiago’s single scored Freeman to give the Hillcats an insurance run, but they wouldn’t need it as Jonathan Teaney (Save, 1) allowed just one run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Adams, leading Lynchburg to a 6-4 win.
Freeman went 3-for-4 in the game while Santiago collected a pair of base knocks. With the win, the Hillcats snap a five-game losing streak in games decided by three runs or fewer.
Juan Mota (Win, 1-0) was excellent in his Carolina League debut, surrendering two earned runs over five innings while punching out five. Hector Hernandez came in relief of Mota, firing three frames while giving up just one unearned run and striking out a season-high seven. Teaney allowed one run in the final frame.
Garcia gave up five runs (four earned) in four innings in the start for the Woodpeckers. Brett Conine tossed four innings of one-run baseball out of the bullpen for Fayetteville.
The Hillcats are next in action on Saturday when the Frederick Keys come to town for a three-game series. Juan Hillman (3-10, 4.30) will toe the rubber for Lynchburg while Frederick will send right-hander Ofelky Peralta (0-0, 5.91) to the mound. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
Max Gun and Anders Jorstad will be on the air at 5:50 p.m. with the Hillcats pre-game show on TuneIn Radio and the Radio434 App.
Aloha Weekend festivities continue on Saturday, which is Faith and Family Night at City Stadium. Postgame fireworks will be presented by Kona Ice. Sunday’s game is also a Sandlot Sunday, where all kids in attendance will be able to run the bases following the conclusion of the contest.
For tickets or more information, visit lynchburg-hillcats.com, call 434-528-1144, or visit the City Stadium box office.