Hillcats eliminated from playoff contention with loss
Lynchburg (60-69, 28-34) has officially been eliminated from postseason contention in 2019 following the loss to Wilmington (79-54, 35-29). The Hillcats league-high playoff streak of seven consecutive years is over, marking the first time since 2011 that the club will not appear in Carolina League Division Series.
The Indians affiliate started the scoring with a run in the bottom of the first. Steven Kwan led off the frame with a triple and scored a batter later on an RBI ground out from Tyler Freeman for a 1-0 lead.
Wilmington quickly struck back for a run in the second. Cristian Perez worked a one out walk, and advanced to second base on a balk. MJ Melendez cracked an RBI double off the right field wall, scoring Perez to tie the game at 1-1.
The Blue Rocks plated four runs in a decisive fourth inning. Brewer Hicklen, Dennicher Carrasco and Kyle Kasser all singled to load the bases with one out. Perez lifted a sacrifice fly to score Hicklen, and the ball got away from catcher Gavin Collins on the throw home, allowing Carrasco to also score. Later in the frame, Melendez punched a two-run home run, his eighth of the year, to put Wilmington ahead, 5-1.
In the fifth inning, Kasser walked and eventually scored on a wild pitch to widen the gap to 6-1 in favor of the ‘Rocks.
Lynchburg got a run back in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jonathan Laureano singled and moved to third base on a hit by Jason Rodriguez. With two away, Kwan roped an RBI double to right-center, plating Laureano to trim the deficit to 6-2.
In the eighth, the Hillcats tightened up the game with three runs on one swing. Freeman and Jodd Carter singled ahead of a three-run home run by Collins, his seventh of the season to bring Lynchburg within a 6-5 score, but that is as close as the Hillcats would get.
Cody Morris (Loss, 2-1) started for Lynchburg and surrendered five earned runs over eight hits in three innings, walking two and punching out five. Randy Valladares allowed a run in 1.1 frames and Dakody Clemmer worked 2.2 scoreless innings. Justin Garza fired a scoreless eighth and Yapson Gomez worked a clean ninth.
Rito Lugo (Win, 4-3) started for Wilmington and gave up two earned runs on five hits over five frames. Walker Sheller fired two scoreless innings and Marcelo Martinez surrendered the homer to Collins in the eighth. Andrew Beckwith (Save, 2) pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to nail down the win.
The Hillcats have six games remaining in 2019, all at home. The team plays the third game of the four-game set against the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Wednesday. Lynchburg will hand the ball over to right-hander Brock Hartson (1-2, 3.51), where he will be met by ‘Rocks lefty Austin Cox (3-3, 2.74). First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.
Homestand highlights also include Winning Wednesday, featuring an appearance from Alone winner and Lynchburg native Jordan Jonas, Thirsty Thursday ($2 Miller Lite and Yuengling), Fantastic Friday, Sparkling Saturday, and Sandlot Sunday. Friday’s game will be Margaritaville Night at City Stadium with a Jimmy Buffett cover band and an Aloha Jersey Auction as well as a sunglasses giveaway courtesy of High Peak Sportswear. Saturday’s game will have the final fireworks show of the season at City Stadium.
For tickets or more information, visit lynchburg-hillcats.com, call 434-528-1144, or visit the City Stadium box office.