Lynchburg completes weekend sweep

The Hillcats completed the sweep of the Potomac Nationals on Easter Sunday with a 3-2 victory. It was the first three game sweep at home of the Nats since April of 1997 when the P-Nats were the Prince William Cannons in the St. Louis Cardinals’ family. Second baseman Tommy La Stella added three RBIs–for the second time this season–to carry the Hillcats to victory and the 13-best prospect in the Braves organization, J.R. Graham picked up his first victory of the season.

Lynchburg got its first look at one of the top prospects in the Braves organization, RHP  J.R. Graham in the series finale against the Potomac Nationals. Graham took the hill against P-Nats righty, Adam Olbrychowski.

It was Groundhogs’ Day on Easter as the Hillcats again jumped on Potomac early. Things got started with shortstop Nick Ahmed’s first walk of the season, followed by second baseman Tommy La Stella’s first home run and team leading RBIs number five and six.

The lead was short-lived thanks to a lead-off walk by third baseman Sean Nicol in the top of the second inning. Left fielder Wade Moore followed the walk with a sharp single out to left field. Third baseman Edward Salcedo retired second baseman Adrian Sanchez on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, catcher James Skelton made the most of his first at-bat of the season by slapping a single out to right field. Nicol scored easily from third base. David Rohm made a strong throw to the plate from right field that was just off line. Catcher Evan Gattis couldn’t handle the throw and Moore scored as well. The game was tied 2-2.

Graham and Olbrychowski were both locked in through the third and fourth innings. It wasn’t until the fifth inning that the ‘Cats were able to break the tie. It started with a lead-off double from designated hitter Robby Hefflinger. Left fielder Kyle Rose couldn’t convert his sacrifice bunt attempt, but center fielder Matt Lipka picked him up by lining a single into the outfield. Ahmed walked to load the bases for La Stella who continued his hot hitting by lifting a deep fly ball to the center field warning track. Hefflinger was able to tag-up and score to give the Hillcats their third and final run of the game.

Graham labored through the fifth giving up two hits to start the inning, but helped himself by making a beautiful spinning throw to third to get the lead runner on center fielder Michael Taylor’s sacrafice bunt attempt. He then struck out shortstop Blake Kelso before Taylor was caught stealing on a ball that squirted away from Gattis.

The Nats sent RHPs Trevor Holder and Rob Wort to keep the Hillcats offense stalled at three runs. The ‘Cats countered with debuts from LHP Chasen Shreve and RHP Ryan Weber. Each had perfect innings with Weber striking out two of the three he faced. Wort went two innings and gave up one hit.

For the first time this season, Lynchburg found themselves in a save situation and turned to closer LHP Matt Chaffee. After sitting down the first two batters looking, Chaffee gave up a single, but was able to close the door for his first save of the season by getting Moore to ground out. The Hillcats won 3-2.

J.R. Graham (1-0) got his first win of the season after going five innings, surrendering two runs on five hits to go along with two walks and three strikeouts. His counterpart, Adam Olbrychowski (0-1), got the loss. He went five innings and gave up three runs on seven hits. Olbrychowski also walked and struckout one.

Lynchburg is off Monday and will return to action on Tuesday when they play host to the Salem Red Sox. Scheduled to start for the Hillcats is RHP Aaron Northcraft (0-0) against the Red Sox LHP Manny Rivera (0-0). First pitch is scheduled for 6:05pm and gates will open at 5pm. The Hillcats’ live radio broadcast with Erik Wilson and Mike Viso will come on the air at 5:40pm, starting with the Hillcats On-Deck Show powered by Honda/Suzuki of Lynchburg.


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