Lynchburg Hillcats hold off Winston-Salem
The Lynchburg Hillcats bullpen, which entered Tuesday with a 2.27 ERA, gave up four runs over the last four innings, but the Hillcats were able to hold on for an 8-6 win over the Winston-Salem Dash. Tommy La Stella hit his first home run of the year and scored three runs while Hillcats starter Jarrett Miller went five innings to get his second win in as many starts.
After a scoreless top of the first, the Hillcats (13-10) scored two runs before an out was recorded in the home half. After Matt Weaver was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, La Stella drove a two-run homer over the right field fence to put the ‘Cats up, 2-0.
Similar to last night, a home run was the only blemish by a Hillcat starter. Miller gave up a two-run shot to Grant Buckner, his first of the season, in the second inning to tie the game at 2-2.
The Hillcats responded with a four-run third inning. With one out La Stella walked and William Beckwith singled to put runners on the corners. Beckwith now has a hit in five straight games and reached base safely in 16 in a row.
Robby Hefflinger singled home La Stella to regain the lead and Kyle Kubitza followed with a sacrifice fly to score Beckwith. David Rohm doubled to put two in scoring position for Matt Lipka, who hit a two-run double to put the ‘Cats up 6-2 after three.
Then in the fourth, Lynchburg tacked on two more. Luis De La Cruz led off the inning with a double and later scored on a Hefflinger single. Hefflinger had two RBI on the day and became the first Carolina Leaguer to reach 20 runs driven in this season. La Stella scored on a passed ball later in the inning.
All the runs were credited to Dash (13-12) starter Terance Marin. Marin (2-1) was pulled with the bases loaded in the fourth, taking his first loss of the season after 3.1 innings in which he allowed eight earned runs on eight hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
Hillcats manager Luis Salazar pulled Miller (2-0) after the fifth. He gave up the two runs on five hits with a pair of walks and strikeouts. It was his second consecutive win over the Dash since being inserted into the rotation last week.
The bullpen, which has been near dominant all season, was touched up for four runs from the sixth-through-eighth innings. Jeremy Farrell and Brent Tanner each had RBI hits in the sixth. Both runs came with two outs against James Hoyt. It snapped a string of 17 consecutive scoreless innings by Hoyt.
Courtney Hawkins doubled home Chris Curley in the seventh off Ronan Pacheco and Kevin Smith drove in Adam Heisler off Wilson Rivera in the eighth to make it an 8-6 ballgame. The Hillcats had plenty of chances to put the game away offensively in the late innings. They stranded six runners, including five in scoring position in the combined sixth-through-eighth innings.
Nate Hyatt was as on-point as ever, retiring the Dash in order in the ninth, including a strikeout, for his fourth save of the season; the Hillcats have not blown a save this season. The win gives the Hillcats two in a row, a 5-1 season-series record over the Dash and allows them to remain atop the Carolina League North Division.
The HIllcats look to earn the series victory Wednesday in game three of the four-game set. First pitch is at 6:05pm with gates opening at 5pm. It’s another Win-Win Wednesday at City Stadium. Fans will get handed a free ticket to our next Wednesday home game as they walk through the gates tomorrow. Mark Pope (0-1, 11.05 ERA) makes the start for Lynchburg, while Justin Collop (1-2, 3.54 ERA) takes the hill for Winston-Salem. If you can’t make it to the ballpark, join Erik Wilson and Jake Levy on the broadcast, beginning with the Hillcats On-Deck Show, powered by Honda/Suzuki of Lynchburg, going live at 5:40pm on 97.9 FM The Planet and lynchburg-hillcats.com.