Hillcats win share of Carolina League title

Lynchburg pitchers struck out 13, and the Hillcats used two big innings on offense to defeat Frederick, 7-1, and win a share of the Carolina League Championship at City Stadium Saturday night.

lynchburg hillcatsThe Hillcats plated four runs in the third and three in the sixth to build a 7-0 lead before Frederick tallied its only run in the ninth. Brock Hartson started on the mound for Lynchburg and tied a career-high seven strikeouts in just four innings. It marked his first appearance in 14 days. The right-hander turned the ball over to Adam Plutko.

Plutko worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings before Ben Krauth entered to retire the only batter he faced in a lefty-lefty matchup. Luke Eubank struck out four in two perfect innings of middle relief, and Argenis Angulo pitched the ninth inning to seal the victory.

Willi Castro led the offense with three hits in five at-bats. He drove in two runs with a single in the sixth inning to stretch the lead to 7-0. Earlier in the frame, Connor Marabell and Sicnarf Loopstok had back-to-back singles before Marabell scored on a passed ball. Sam Haggerty walked prior to scoring on Castro’s two-out hit.

Lynchburg claimed its initial lead in the third. Ka’ai Tom started the frame with an opposite-field double. Haggerty walked, and Castro reached on an error to load the bases. Gavin Collins plated the first two runs of the game with a single to center field. Mitch Longo reached on an error, and Martin Cervenka followed with a two-run double to make it a 4-0 margin.

With the victory, Lynchburg became Carolina League Co-Champions with Down East after Hurricane Irma forced the cancellation of the Mills Cup Championship Series. It represents Lynchburg’s first Carolina League title since 2012 and its eighth in franchise history. It marks the first Carolina League championship for an Indians affiliate since Kinston won in 2006. The Hillcats went 87-52 in the regular season, which was the best record by a Lynchburg team since the 1985 Mets posted a 95-45 mark.

The Hillcats closed out the series with back-to-back wins at City Stadium to finish 2017 with a 46-27 home record. It was the first time the team had a chance to celebrate in front of its fans after Lynchburg clinched both the first-half and second-half Northern Division titles on the road during the regular season.

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