Hillcats walk off Mudcats on wild pitch

lynchburg hillcatsThe Lynchburg Hillcats overcame a four-run deficit to tie the game in the eighth inning, before Nattino Diplan uncorked a wild pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth, scoring Mitch Longo for a 6-5 walk-off win.

The Hillcats (46-51, 17-13) matched their largest comeback win of the season, which also came against the Mudcats (49-49, 15-13) back on May 30.

Anthony Miller led off the ninth with a single through the right side. He was pinch run for by Longo, who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Dillon Persinger, and to third on a wild pitch. Diplan (Loss, 5-2), then hit Ernie Clement to put two men aboard. The Mudcats then walked Conner Capel intentionally to load the bases, and with Gavin Collins batting, Diplan bounced a pitch to the backstop to allow Longo to score the winning run.

Diplan gave up a run on one hit and suffered his second loss of the season.

Trailing 5-2 in the eighth inning, Collins laced a one out triple off the wall in center field to score Capel, who reached on a single one batter prior. Later in the inning, Li-Jen Chu lifted his eighth home run of the season, off of Mudcats reliever Jorge Ortega, to tie the score. Chu enjoyed a three-hit game on the night.

Carolina took a 3-0 lead in the third inning off of Hillcats starter Sam Hentges, who loaded the bases with one out as a result of three walks. Pat McInerney opened the scoring with an RBI single to center. With the bases still loaded, Hentges then got a ground ball back to the mound. He threw home to get the force at the plate, but then Chu airmailed the return throw to first to plate two more runs in the inning.

Hentges went five innings, allowing four runs on five hits, walked four, but recorded nine strikeouts. On the Mudcats side, Cam Roegner kept Lynchburg in check, going five scoreless innings and giving up just four hits.

With the Mudcats leading 4-0 in the sixth, the Hillcats came through against the Ortega. Collins doubled to drive in Clement, and Chu singled home Collins, to cut the deficit to 4-2.

Carolina would tack on a run in the eighth against Micah Miniard. Cooper Hummel led off with a walk, and scored two batters late on a Ryan Aguilar RBI single.

James Karinchak (Win, 1-1) would shut the door in the top of the ninth, retiring the side in order and struck out two.

The walk-off win was the second of the season for Lynchburg, and first since Chu doubled home the winning run in the seventh inning of Game One of a double-header against Winston-Salem on April 25.

The series continues Sunday evening at 5 p.m. when left-hander Anderson Polanco (1-1, 4.17) takes the ball for the Hillcats. He will be opposed by Carolina righty Devin Williams (0-2, 4.19).

Max Gun and Matt Present will be on the air beginning at 4:50 p.m. on TuneIn Radio and Radio434.

It’s Sandlot Sunday at City Stadium with kids run the bases, catch in the outfield, and wiffle ball following the conclusion of the game.

For tickets and more information visit lynchburg-hillcats.com, the City Stadium box office, or call 434-528-1144.

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