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First-inning ambush lifts FredNats to 11-6 win

Fredericksburg NationalsDespite an hour-long rain delay, a five-run first inning helped the Fredericksburg Nationals defeat the Lynchburg Hillcats 11-6 on Saturday night.

The FredNats had four hits and three runs within the game’s first four pitches, as Viandel Peña singled, José Sánchez and Ricardo Méndez doubled, and Junior Martina singled. Kevin Strohschein capped the inning with a two-run homer, putting the FredNats in front 5-0. Méndez’s two-run double extended his hitting streak to 15 games, two shy of tying a league record in 2021.

Though the Hillcats scored two runs in the second, a Strohschein RBI single in the third and a Peña RBI fielder’s choice in the fourth helped the FredNats extend the lead to 7-2 against Lynchburg starter Juan Zapata (L, 1-2).

Seth Romero was poised to earn the win in his third rehab start for Fredericksburg, allowing two runs on eight hits over 4.0 innings. The tarp was pulled after two batters in the top of the fifth with severe weather approaching, and Romero did not return after the 58-minute rain delay.

On the other side of the break, the FredNats offense got back to work. Strohschein drove in his fourth run with an RBI single, and Jake Randa plated a pair with a two-out hit to extend the lead to 10-1. Matt Merrill (W, 1-1) pitched a 1-2-3 fifth in relief of Romero, earning his first win.

The lone remaining Fredericksburg run came from a Jeremy De La Rosa triple and Randa single in the eighth. The Hillcats collected solo homers from Korey Holland and Petey Halpin, but the FredNats bullpen was able to get the final outs without allowing Lynchburg to get within reach.

The FredNats will aim for a series split on Sunday as they play their final game in Lynchburg. First pitch from Bank of the James Stadium is scheduled for 5:00, with FredNats On Deck beginning at 4:45 on the FredNats Baseball Network.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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