Late Hillcats rally falls short in loss to Mudcats
The Hillcats (11-8, 43-43) scored four runs in the ninth inning against the Mudcats (11-8, 50-38), but Justin Topa (Save, 1) got Connor Smith to ground out to end the game.
Trailing 6-1 entering the ninth, Lynchburg chased Muddies reliever Rodrigo Benoit from the game after he only recorded one out in the inning. Steven Kwan reached on a leadoff walk, and Tyler Freeman and Oscar Gonzalez each singled to load the bases with none out. Will Benson hit a grounder to second base which scored Kwan. A batter later, Mitch Reeves slammed a two-run single to center, plating both Freeman and Gonzalez to tighten the deficit to 6-4. An RBI groundout from Mike Rivera narrowed the margin to 5-1 before Smith grounded out to end the contest.
Mario Felicano carried the Mudcats offense, logging two doubles, a triple and three RBI.
The catcher’s first run-scoring hit came in the first. Wes Rogers reached on a leadoff single, and scored on an RBI double to make it 1-0 Carolina.
Feliciano widened the gap to 2-0 when he doubled home Rogers again in the third inning.
Lynchburg cut the deficit in half in the fourth. Jonathan Laureano reached on a single and moved to second base when Tyler Friis singled. With two away, Kwan grooved an RBI single to left field, scoring Laureano to bring the Hillcats within a 2-1 score.
The Muddies scored twice more in the seventh. Rogers led off with a walk, and came around to score on an error. Tristen Lutz reached on an infield single, and as Rogers motored to third base, Dakody Clemmer’s throw to the bag sailed up the line, allowing Rogers to touch home. Lutz then scored on an RBI triple from Feliciano, pushing the edge to 4-1.
Carolina added some much-needed insurance in the eighth. With two out, Devin Hairston doubled and Rogers walked. In stepped Ryan Aguilar, who roped a two-run double into the right field corner to stretch the Mudcats’ lead to 6-1.
Hector Hernandez (Loss, 1-2) started for Lynchburg and allowed two earned runs on six hits in 4.1 innings, fanning seven. Clemmer gave up two runs in 2.1 frames and Felix Tati allowed the double to Aguilar in the eighth.
Noah Zavolas (Win, 5-3) worked 5.1 frames of one-run ball. Michael Peterson fired 1.2 scoreless innings and Anthony Bender worked a clean eighth. Benoit was tagged for four runs in the ninth before Topa retired the two batters he faced to nail down the win.
The Hillcats will look to avoid the sweep in the series finale on Tuesday. Left-hander Juan Hillman (3-8, 3.21) will take the mound for Lynchburg against Muddies righty Matt Hardy (7-1, 4.12). First pitch is scheduled for noon at Five County Stadium.
Max Gun and Anders Jorstad will be on the air at 11:50 a.m. with the Hillcats pre-game show on TuneIn Radio and the Radio434 App.
The Hillcats will return to City Stadium on July 17 for a six-game home stand against Fayetteville and Frederick. Homestand highlights include Winning Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, Fantastic Friday, Sparkling Saturday, and Sandlot Sunday. Friday’s post-game fireworks show will be presented by Pepsi while Saturday’s will be presented by Kona Ice.
For tickets or more information, visit lynchburg-hillcats.com, call 434-528-1144, or visit the City Stadium box office.