Lynchburg comeback falls short against Blue Rocks

lynchburg hillcatsThe Lynchburg Hillcats were hoping to string together consecutive wins for the first time since late May but were foiled by a 6-5 loss to the Wilmington Blue Rocks Wednesday night at City Stadium.  Will Skinner had three hits in the game, including his fourteenth home run of the season, and two RBI in the loss.  The Hillcats trailed by two runs with six outs remaining and were able to get the go ahead run to the plate in both the eighth and ninth but could not convert.

Down by two runs to start the bottom of the ninth, Matt Lipka hit a grounder that was thrown wide of first base.  Lipka was originally ruled safe but then tagged out in foul territory, igniting a protest from first base coach John Moses and manager Luis Salazar, but the call stood.  THe next two batters both singled to put runners at the corners.  Robby Hefflinger hit a sacrifice fly to get within one before Kyle Kubitza grounded out to end the ballgame, leaving the Hillcats wondering ‘what if?’

The Hillcats (2-4, 38-37) again fell behind early with Wilmington (3-3, 36-40) putting up two runs in the first. Justin Trapp led off the ballgame with a double and was immediately sacrificed to third.  Lane Adams, who missed the first two games of the series with a thumb injury, singled to plate Trapp then scored himself on a double by Dennis Raben.

Lipka got a run back for the ‘Cats in the bottom of the first.  He led off with a bunt single, stole second then advanced to third on a groundout before scoring on a Trenton Moses groundout.  Lynchburg tied it up in the second when Kyle Kubitza tripled to lead off the inning and was promptly driven in on the Skinner double.

The tie didn’t last long.  Wilmington plated two runs in the top of the third.  Three straight singles, including an RBI knock by Jack Lopez, led off the inning.  Geulin Beltre grounded out to drive in the second run later in the inning.

Hillcats starter Ryan Weber (4-3) was pulled after 4.2 innings.  He gave up the four runs on nine hits and a walk. He was lifted with runners at the corners in the fifth for Greg Ross, who got out of the jam.

Skinner got the Hillcats back within one with his 14th home run of the season in the fourth.  Then in the fifth the Hillcats put two on with two outs, chasing Wilmington’s starter Kellen Moen from the game.  Malcom Culver (3-3) came on and walked Robby Hefflinger to load the bases but came back to get Kubitza to fly out to center field.

Wilmington got some insurance in the seventh.  Ethan Chapman laid down a bases-loaded bunt with two outs that was bobbled by Ross to plate a run. Then the next batter, Trapp, hit a grounder back towards the mound that deflected off of Ross’s glove for an RBI-infield single, making it 6-3 heading to the seventh-inning stretch.

The Hillcats got a run back in the eighth when Levi Hyams drew a pinch-hit, bases-loaded walk with two outs to score Kubitza.  It was the first RBI for Hyams since joining Lynchburg at the start of the second half.  With the tying run in scoring position, pinch hitter Shawn McGill struck out looking to end the inning.  Andrew Triggs pitched the final two innings to get his sixth save of the season.

The Hillcats look for a series split in the finale against Wilmington on Thursday.  It’s another Theme Thursday at City Stadium: Halloween Night.  There are also $2 drink specials courtesy of Yuengling, Miller Lite and 97.9 The Planet. Jarett Miller (5-4, 3.91) takes the mound for Lynchburg against Sam Selman (6-5, 2.85) for the Blue Rocks.  First pitch is set for 7:05pm with gates opening at 6pm, but 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, on 97.9 The Planet

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