Lynchburg can’t climb out of early hole, falls 15-8
A seven-run first inning put the Lynchburg Hillcats in a hole they couldn’t climb out of in a 15-8 loss to the Wilmington Blue Rocks Monday night at City Stadium. Ten runs came off Hillcats starter Navery Moore, who took his second-straight loss. Robby Hefflinger hit his twentieth home run of the season with a grand slam and drove in six runs but it wasn’t enough to overcome the offensive onslaught from Wilmington.
For the third straight game the Hillcats (1-3, 37-36) fell behind early as the Blue Rocks (2-2, 35-39) sent 11 men to the plate and scored seven runs in the first inning. The first two hitters singled then Moore got the first out on a strikeout. The next six hitters would reach on five hits and an error by Moses and five of them came in to score; seven of the first eight batters to face Moore would score a run.
The Hillcats got two back in the first. Trenton Moses laced a ball down the left field line for a double to score Matt Lipka, who singled to lead off the inning. It was Moses’ first at bat as a Hillcat after getting called up from Rome on Sunday. The 24-year-old came into score on an RBI-groundout by Hefflinger, making it 7-2 Wilmington after one inning.
The Blue Rocks added a run in the second on a sacrifice fly by Parker Morin, who drove in three runs and scored twice in the game. They added two more in the fifth on an RBI-infield-single by Alex McClure when the throw from Kyle Kubitza skipped past first base and out of play.
Moore (7-6) was able to get through five innings but gave up ten runs, eight earned, on 13 hits with a walk and three strikeouts. It was his second straight loss after winning his previous five decisions. For the Hillcats it was their third straight loss overall, matching their longest losing streak of the season.
Tyler Sample (1-3) got his first win of the season in a 5+ inning effort, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out three and walking five. He walked Kubitza three times, which put Kubitza in the league lead in free passes.
Wilmington added another insurance run in the seventh, which proved to be big because in the bottom of the inning Hefflinger blasted grand slam over the left field wall, his league-leading twentieth homer of the season, to cut the lead down to 11-6 after seven innings.
The teams traded two spots in the eighth as Hefflinger picked up his sixth RBI with a bases-loaded walk. The Blue Rocks tacked on two more runs in the ninth to round out the slugfest. The Blue Rocks collected 19 hits in the game after just 36 knocks off Hillcats pitching in the first six games of the season between the two clubs.
The Hillcats try to snap the skid in game two of the four-game series Tuesday with a 7:05pm first pitch at City Stadium. Gates open at 6pm for Half-Price Tuesday, presented by ABC13, with $4 general admission tickets for the game. A.J. Holland (3-4, 4.56) takes the mound for Hillcats against Kyle Smith (4-3, 2.99) for Wilmington. If you can’t make it to the game, join Erik Wilson and Jake Levy for the call starting with the Hillcats On-Deck Show, powered by Honda/Suzuki of Lynchburg, starting at 6:40pm on 97.9 FM The Planet and lynchburg-hillcats.com