Lynchburg Hillcats can’t dig out of early hole, lose to Wilmington

lynchburg hillcatsThe Wilmington Blue Rocks sealed the series victory with a 6-4 win over the Hillcats on Saturday, pushing the two teams into a first-place tie in the CL North Division.

The Hillcats (13-10) fell behind by as many as four runs in the game as the Blue Rocks (13-10) piled on the runs early in the victory.

With a 1-1 tie heading into the top of the third inning, the Blue Rocks looked to capitalize on Hillcats starter Adam Scott (Loss, 2-2) in his first career start against Wilmington. After Scott got two quick outs in the third frame, things began to unravel for the left-hander. Ricky Aracena got aboard with a double, and a pair of walks drawn by Seuly Matias and Nick Pratto loaded the bases. Dennicher Carrasco hit a rocket to third base that Hillcats third baseman Nolan Jones couldn’t handle, and the error allowed two runs to come in for Wilmington, giving them a 3-1 lead. With runners on second and third, MJ Melendez emptied the bases with a two-run single, pushing the Blue Rocks’ lead to 5-1.

The Hillcats scratched across a run in the bottom half of the frame when Steven Kwan’s leadoff triple was followed by a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jones. That cut the Lynchburg deficit to 5-2.

The two starters got into a groove after that, with the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings passing without incident.

In the top of the seventh, the Blue Rocks added onto their lead. Cristian Perez singled to get on base to lead off the stanza, and Matias continued to deal damage against the Hillcats. His RBI double delivered Wilmington’s sixth run of the game.

However, Lynchburg was not done fighting. Luke Wakamatsu doubled to start things off in the seventh, and he scored on a wild pitch to cut the Blue Rocks lead to 6-3.

The eighth inning also saw another run for Lynchburg. Trenton Brooks doubled, then Mike Rivera drove him in with an RBI groundout to make it 6-4.

Early in the ballgame, the Hillcats took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Oscar Gonzalez that scored Jones. But Wilmington countered when Carrasco scored on an error to Jose Vicente at first base to tie it up at 1-1.

Then in the ninth, the Hillcats applied the full court press. Wakamatsu hit his second double of the game, and Kwan matched it with a single to put the tying runs aboard. Jones came to the dish with two outs and a chance to win the game with one swing. His fly ball into left field fell just short of careening into the wall, and Brewer Hicklen caught the ball to end the game, the Blue Rocks escaping with a 6-4 win.

Scott allowed five runs (one earned) while striking out six batters and walking two in his five innings of action. Anthony Gose, making his Hillcats debut, tossed two frames of one-run ball while striking out a pair of Blue Rocks. Felix Tati completed the final two innings without allowing a run.

Daniel Lynch (Win, 1-1) threw 5.2 innings while allowing two runs on seven hits. J.C. Cloney allowed an unearned run in 0.2 innings after that, and Daniel Duarte fired 1.2 innings with one run scored against him. Tad Ratliff (Save, 6) notched the save in a rocky ninth inning.

The Hillcats will face the Blue Rocks in the series finale on Sunday. Brady Singer (1-2, 3.32), the Royals’ top prospect according to MLB Pipeline, will take the ball against Lynchburg. The Hillcats will send Eli Morgan (3-0, 0.78) to see if he can continue his hot start and help Hill City avoid the sweep. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.

Max Gun and Anders Jorstad will be on the air beginning at 2:50 p.m. on TuneIn Radio and Radio434.

Sunday’s game will be a Sandlot Sunday, in which all kids in attendance will be able to run the bases following the final out of the ballgame.

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

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