Hillcats top Carolina, 5-4, maintain wild-card lead
Two teams involved in separate Wild Card races needed 10 innings to determine a winner, but the Hillcats prevailed in an extra-inning thriller with a 5-4 victory at Carolina Friday night to maintain a one game lead over Frederick in the Northern Division standings.
After Lynchburg (33-33, 67-69) held a lead three different times only to see Carolina (32-34, 61-72) tie the game on each occasion, Will Skinner finally delivered the decisive blow in extra frames. Emerson Landoni singled to open the 10th and advanced to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run with Eric Garcia. With two outs, Skinner drove in Landoni for his second RBI of the game and 52nd of the year to give the Hillcats a 5-4 advantage.
Nate Hyatt (5-3) recorded the first out of the bottom of the 10th to complete two scoreless innings of relief and earn the victory. Alex Wilson came on for the final two outs to improve to 16-for-16 in save opportunities this year. The loss went to Grant Sides, who fell to 4-2 on the season.
Lynchburg never trailed in the contest, but Carolina erased a Hillcats lead at three different points in the game. In the first inning, Lynchburg used two unearned runs to take its initial advantage. Blake Brown and Landoni began the game with back-to-back singles. A fielding error by James Roberts on a groundball by Sean Godfrey allowed Brown to score. Three batters later, Skinner drove in Landoni to make it 2-0, but Godfrey was thrown at home to end the inning.
Roberts hit a solo home run for Carolina in the third, and Joe Sever scored an unearned run in the fourth to knot the score at 2-all. However, Lynchburg quickly answered in the fifth. Brown drew a leadoff walk and Landoni moved him to second on a sacrifice bunt. Godfrey singled up the middle to plate Brown and put Lynchburg on top, 3-2.
Carolina responded in the bottom of the fifth with back-to-back doubles by Logan Vick and Yhoxian Medina to even the contest, 3-3. The combination of Brown and Godfrey came through again in the seventh. Brown walked and stole second base. Godfrey singled him home for a second time, and Lynchburg led 4-3.
Carolina leveled the score one final time in the bottom of the seventh. Three consecutive walks to Vick, Medina and Yandy Diaz loaded the bases. Torsten Boss hit a sacrifice fly to left field to make it 4-apiece.
Godfrey and Skinner both finished the night 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Godfrey has reached base safely in all eight games since joining the team and is currently on a seven-game hitting streak.
Lynchburg travels to Myrtle Beach to close out the regular season. Wes Parsons (4-7, 5.20) faces lefty Chad Bell (6-3, 3.90) at 7:05 p.m. The Hillcats On-Deck Show presented by Amtrak Virginia will take the air at 6:40 p.m. with Kyle West on the call.
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