Hillcats rally, big-time, to knock off P-Nats
The two teams scored just one run combined in the first six innings, but things got interesting down the stretch.
Eli Morgan, the reigning Carolina League Pitcher of the Week, ran into some trouble in the top of the first inning as the Nationals loaded the bases following an Osvaldo Abreu single, a fielding error by Morgan that allowed Cole Freeman to reach, and a walk by Anderson Franco. Morgan induced a fly out to left field by Gage Canning to get himself out of the jam without allowing a run.
Both pitchers got into a rhythm after that, as Morgan retired the next six batters while Jackson Tetreault retired the first eight Hillcats hitters.
In the top of the fourth inning, Aldrem Corredor feasted on Morgan’s first mistake pitch of the ballgame, tattooing a ball over the right field fence for his first home run of the season, which gave Potomac (6-8) a 1-0 lead over Lynchburg (9-5).
Morgan bounced back after that, sitting down eight of the next nine Nationals hitters.
Morgan’s day came to a close after six innings. Jonathan Teaney emerged from the bullpen looking to keep the damage to a minimum. Catcher Alex Dunlap, the first hitter to face Teaney in the game, drove a ball over the left field fence for the second home run of the game, which gave Potomac a 2-0 advantage. Potomac then loaded the bases on an Armond Upshaw single, an Abreu single, and a Freeman walk. Teaney was pulled from the game in favor of Yapson Gomez, who allowed two runners to score on an RBI double from Corredor. That pushed the Nationals lead to 5-0.
Lynchburg’s hitters answered back in the bottom of the seventh. Nolan Jones and Oscar Gonzalez led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Then Gavin Collins plated the first Hillcats run of the game with a double off the left field wall, scoring Jones. With runners on second and third, Mike Rivera took advantage and sprayed a single into right field. Gonzalez and Collins scored on the play, cutting the Nationals lead to 5-3.
The Hillcats offense came alive in the bottom of the eighth inning. Austen Wade led off the inning with a walk. Tyler Friis doubled to put runners on first and second, and Jones drew a walk to load the bases. Gonzalez was hit by a pitch, forcing home a run and trimming the Nationals lead to 5-4. With the bases loaded, Collins hit a sacrifice fly deep into center field to score Friis and tie the game at 5-5. Jodd Carter drew a walk to load the bases again, and Rivera drove home a pair with an RBI single to give the Hillcats their first lead of the ballgame at 7-5 in the eighth inning.
Kyle Nelson tossed a flawless ninth inning, striking out a pair of batters and slamming the door to secure the 7-5 Hillcats win, which earned Lynchburg its second series win of the season.
Morgan tossed six innings for the Hillcats, allowing one run on three hits while striking out six Nationals. Teaney gave up four runs in a third of an inning while Gomez threw a scoreless frame in relief with one strikeout. Nelson (Win, 1-0) thew an inning and two thirds of scoreless baseball while striking out three.
Tetreault started the game for Potomac and threw six scoreless innings while striking out five batters. A.J. Bogucki gave up three runs on four hits in an inning of relief. Jeremy McKinney (Loss, 0-1) earned his first blown save of the season by allowing four runs to score in one inning of work while walking three batters.
The Hillcats will begin a four-game set against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on Thursday. This will be the second time the Hillcats have played the Pelicans this season and the first meeting of the season at City Stadium. The Hillcats will send left-hander Juan Hillman (1-1, 0.00) to the mound to face Myrtle Beach in the first game of the series. The Pelicans have not yet announced their starter for the game. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.
Tomorrow will be the first Thirsty Thursday of the season at City Stadium. All fans 21 years of age and older will receive special $2 deals on Miller Lite and Yuengling presented by Blue Ridge Beverage.
Max Gun and Anders Jorstad will be on the air beginning at 6:20 p.m. on TuneIn Radio and Radio434.
For tickets and more information, visit lynchburg-hillcats.com, the City Stadium box office, or call 434-528-1144.