Eight-run eighth stuns Hillcats in 9-6 loss
Luigi Rodriguez had a double and a triple and scored twice, while Mike Papi belted his second home run of the week, but Wilmington shocked the Hillcats with eight runs in the eighth inning to claim a 9-6 victory at Frawley Stadium Friday night.
BOY, THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY
Trailing 6-1 entering the eighth, Wilmington sent 14 men to the plate and tallied eight runs on six hits to jump out to a 9-6 advantage. Cam Gallagher andDominique Taylor kickstarted the offense with back-to-back walks against Delvy Francisco. Carlos Garcia and Ramon Torres followed with singles, plating a run to make it 6-2. With the bases loaded, Mauricio Ramos cut the margin to 6-5 with a three-run double. Justin Brantley came out of the bullpen after Francisco allowed all five batters he faced to reach base.
With the tying run at second base and nobody out, Brantley recorded a fly out by Cody Stubbs, but Frank Schwindel singled up the middle to drive inRamos and tie the game, 6-all. Alfredo Escalera singled to advance Schwindel to third. With two outs, Brantley tried to pick Escalera off first base, but his throw sailed high, and Schwindel scored on the error to push Wilmington ahead, 7-6. A two-run double by Carlos Garcia later in the frame capped off the outburst with the Blue Rocks on top, 9-6.
EXTRA-BASE HITS PACE HILLCATS OFFENSE
With Lynchburg already leading 2-1 in the fourth, Mike Papi hit his second home run of the week, a two-run homer that also plated Eric Haase to give the Hillcats a 4-1 advantage. Papi is on a season-high six-game hitting streak with two doubles and two home runs during that span.
Later in the fourth, Yhoxian Medina singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-1. In the seventh inning, Bradley Zimmer lined a leadoff single to right, and Eric Haase doubled to left field to stretch the difference to 6-1 in favor of the Hillcats.
In the first two frames, Luigi Rodriguez fueled the offense with a pair of extra-base hits of his own. Rodriguez lined a ball to center field and sprinted out of the batter’s box to turn a single into a double. He came home one batter later on a base hit by Clint Frazier.
In the second inning, Luigi Rodriguez ripped a triple off the right-field wall and scored on a sacrifice fly by Frazier. Rodriguez extended his hitting streak to 10 games, which includes eight multi-hit efforts during that time. Luigi is batting .426 (20-for-47) with a home run, three doubles, three triples, and three stolen bases in his past 10 contests. The 22-year-old leads the Carolina League with a .529 slugging percentage, 145 total bases, 11 home runs, and seven triples. He also paces the circuit with a total of 34 extra-base hits this year.
TOUGH LUCK FOR PEOPLES
Also lost in Wilmington’s comeback was Michael Peoples’ bid for his sixth victory of the year. The right-hander held the Blue Rocks to one run and three hits in six innings and left the game with a 5-1 lead. Peoples has registered three consecutive quality starts, but he has only earned the victory in one. The lone run against Peoples came on a solo homer by Ramos in the first inning.
KEEPING UP WITH THE ‘CATS
Bradley Zimmer went 3-for-4 in the contest with a walk to raise his on-base percentage to an even .400, which ranks second in the league…He also stole his 30th base and scored his 56th run, both of which top the circuit…Luigi Rodriguez swiped his 18th base of the year, which ranks fifth in the Carolina League…Three different Hillcats are currently enjoying a season-high hitting streak…Ivan Castillo singled in the fourth inning to extend his hitting streak to a season-best six straight.
Lynchburg returns home for a three-game series against the Salem Red Sox beginning Saturday at 6:30 p.m. A special Fireworks Show for the Fourth of July presented by Kroger and Westover Dairy will follow the game. D.J. Brown (5-3, 4.57) starts for the Hillcats against Kevin McAvoy (4-6, 4.06). Fans can tune in to the action on ESPN Virginia 93.3 FM and 1320 AM as well as www.lynchburg-hillcats.com beginning at 6:10 p.m. for the Hillcats On-Deck Show.