Hillcats win pitching duel
The Hillcats recorded their first shutout of the season tonight, defeating the Frederick Keys 1-0. RHP Aaron Northcraft threw the first six and two-thirds innings, followed by an inning from RHP Andrew Wilson, and the last inning and a third was thrown by LHP Matt Chaffee to complete the combined shutout. The lone run in the game was provided by designated hitter Evan Gattis’ ninth home run of the season.
Northcraft ran into some self inflicted trouble in the bottom of the first inning. With the bases empty and two outs, he fielded a ground ball back to the mound, but his throw to first was high and the runner Kipp Schutz went to second base. Then, he walked third baseman Matt Sweeney to put runners at first and second. Northcraft was able to recover by striking out first baseman Tyler Kolodny on three pitches to end the inning.
The first three innings went scoreless for each side.
Then, Gattis came up to lead off the fourth. He fouled away an 0-2 pitch before lifting the next one over the left field wall. The solo blast put the Hillcats up 1-0. It was his league-leading ninth homer of the season and 27th RBI, which is also a league-high mark.
Northcraft had control of all three of his pitches and cruised through his first six innings. He retired the first two batters of each inning through the fourth frame. The leadoff batters in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings all reached but none scored. In the seventh, Northcraft allowed two base runners for the first time since the first inning. With runners at first and third and two out, manager Luis Salazar called Wilson out of the bullpen.
Wilson came in to face the ninth batter, righty Chris Temblay, but instead would face pinch-hitter, and left-handed batter, Aaron Baker. Baker lifted a 1-0 fastball deep to left field, but Matt Weaver, in his first outfield start this season, tracked the ball down for the final out of the inning. Wilson stayed in to pitch the eighth as well. He walked the first batter. After a sacrifice bunt moved the tying run into scoring position, he struck out Schutz for out number two.
Then, Chaffee was brought in to face the lefty due up, third baseman Matt Sweeney. Keys’ manager Orlando Gomez again went to his bench. Right-handed batter Michael Flacco came in to pinch-hit. Chaffee struck him out the threat was over.
Chaffee came back out for the ninth and sat down the side in order, striking out the first and last batter to record his third save of the season.
Northcraft (3-1) earned the win with his first scoreless outing of the season. He surrendered three hits and walked three, while striking out seven, which matched his season-high. RHP Justin Moore (0-1) took the loss after throwing five and two-thirds innings and surrendering just the one run.
The Hillcats are now 11-8 this season. They snapped a two-game skid with the win and are still yet to lose three in a row this season. At 11-8, they are still in first place in the Northern Division.
Tomorrow, the Hillcats and Keys square off in a day game. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00pm. RHP Cody Martin (2-2, 4.11) will start for Lynchburg against RHP Kyle Simon (0-3, 6.41) for Frederick. The Hillcats On-Deck Show powered by Honda/Suzuki of Lynchburg will go on the air at 1:40pm. Listen live to all the action on 105.5 FM KD Country or online at lynchburg-hillcats.com