Home sweet home: Hillcats rally, top Carolina

Lynchburg HillcatsIn the Lynchburg Hillcats’ first home game in over two weeks, Lynchburg came back from down 5-1 to squeak by a 6-5 win over the Carolina Mudcats in the series opener.

Lynchburg (25-27, 57-62) snaps its three-game skid as the Mudcats (21-33, 60-63) losing streak extends to six.

The Mudcats jumped on Hillcats starter Cody Morris in the first. Wes Rogers and Tristen Lutz hit back-to-back singles, and a walk by Pat McInerney loaded the bases with one away. Eddie Silva replaced Rogers on a fielder’s choice, and with two outs, Rob Henry slugged a triple into the right-center field gap to plate all three runners. The triple chased Morris from the game and gave Carolina a 3-0 advantage in the first.

Lynchburg answered back in the bottom half of the inning. Tyler Freeman singled his way aboard with one out. Then Mitch Reeves drew a walk to put two on base. Will Benson ripped a double to score Freeman, making it 3-1 Mudcats.

Carolina pressed on in the second. Trever Morrison led off the frame with a double. Rogers reached on an error by Luke Wakamatsu at second base, and Morrison scored on the play. Lutz followed that up with a double to extend the Muddies lead to 5-1.

It wasn’t until the fourth that the Hillcats would start to make some serious noise. Connor Smith singled to begin the inning, then Wakamatsu scored Smith from second after he stole the bag. Steven Kwan hit a double to plate Wakamatsu, and Freeman’s double allowed Kwan to score. After the dust had settled, it was 5-4 Carolina after four innings.

The Hillcats went up for good in the fifth. Reeves started things off with a double, and Smith was hit by a pitch to add another runner for the Hillcats. Jason Rodriguez singled, and on the play, reliever Matt Hardy (Loss, 7-3) threw into left field. The error allowed both Reeves and Smith to score the go-ahead runs, pushing Lynchburg to its 6-5 lead.

Morris allowed three unearned runs over 0.2 innings. Justin Garza (Win, 6-8) surrendered two runs (one earned) in 4.1 innings of work while striking out five. Manuel Alvarez, Aaron Pinto, and Jonathan Taney (Save, 3) combined for four innings of scoreless baseball out of the Lynchburg bullpen.

Nelson Hernandez was tagged for four earned runs over 3.2 innings in the start for Carolina. Hardy allowed two unearned runs in 2.1 frames in the loss. Michael Petersen fired two scoreless innings.

The Hillcats will look to secure the series win on Saturday. Lynchburg will send right-hander Brock Hartson (1-1, 2.78) to the mound. He will be countered by righty Wuilder Rodriguez (0-0, -.–), who is making his first appearance for the Mudcats since 2018. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m.

Max Gun and Anders Jorstad will be on the air at 5:50 p.m. with the Hillcats pre-game show on TuneIn Radio and the Radio434 App.

Weekend highlights include First Responders Night on Saturday with postgame fireworks sponsored by Hill City Pharmacy. Sunday’s game will be a Sandlot Sunday where all kids in attendance will be able to run the bases after the conclusion of the game.

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

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