Lynchburg Hillcats knuckle under, fall 7-2 to Winston-Salem
Blaine Sims made his Carolina League debut as a knuckle baller for the Lynchburg Hillcats tonight as Lynchburg fell 7-2 to the Winston-Salem Dash. Sims walked five and struck out a season-high seven, but took the loss surrendering three runs in the third inning. Meanwhile, the ‘Cats didn’t score until the seventh inning as Chris Bassitt continued his success against Lynchburg this season.
Sims, in his fourth season as a pro, has reinvented himself his year developing a knuckle ball over the offseason. He began the year in extended spring training before joining Low-A Rome,and then tonight made his first start back at the Advanced-A Level with the Hillcats where he had spent the bulk of his last two seasons. Tonight started of a bit rough, but Sims was able to bend,not break in the first inning. He walked two and gave up a double. A runner was caught stealing at second and Sims stranded two in a scoreless first frame. He then sat down the side in order striking out two in the second.
The third inning brought trouble for the knuckler. Sims walked the first man and then gave up an infield single to the first baseman. The flip to first went off the bare hand of Sims covering. A ground ball fielder’s choice scored a run after that. After a strikeout and two more walks, the bases were loaded for Rangel Ravelo. Ravelo hit a ground rule double down the right field line plating two more runs. The Dasd took a 3-0 lead.
Sims got through the fourth inning stranding a leadoff single and striking out two more. Billy Bullock relieved Sims in the fifth. He threw a perfect fifth before giving up a run on a walk and single in the sixth. It was the first time Bullock went past one inning this season.
The Hillcats’ offense meanwhile was stagnant much of the night. Bassitt faced the minimum through three innings, allowing just one hit. Emerson Landoni was the only Hillcat to collect a hit against Bassit through the first five innings. He singled in the first and doubled in the fifth. Bassitt pitched through the sixth scoreless. Kyle Kubitza finally broke up the shutout with a solo home run in the seventh. It was his sixth of the season and second in as many games against the Dash this week. Elmer Reyes singled following the homer to extend his current hitting streak to 14 games, which is the longest streak in the Carolina League this season. The single knocked Bassitt out of the game.
Brandon Hardin entered and finished the game for the Dash. He stranded Reyes after giving up a single and inducing a ground ball double play in the seventh. The Hillcats stranded a leadoff single in the eighth inning, scored one run in the ninth but it wasn’t nearly enough after the Dash had added three insurance in the seventh.
Bassitt (6-2) earned the win giving up just one runs on six hits. He struck out eight, falling one shy of his career-high, and improved to 2-0 against Lynchburg this season. Sims (0-1) took the loss due to the three runs third inning. Despite the five run win, the save still went to Hardin (1) since he entered the game with the Dash up 4-1 in the seventh.
The Hillcats fell to 33-30 and are now four game out of first place with just six game to play. The Dash improved to 35-30 and currently sit one game back in the Southern Division.
The series is currently tied 1-1 with the rubber match on tap tomorrow night at 7:00pm. The Hillcats will send RHP Greg Ross (2-3, 4.26) to the mound against RHP Chris Beck (6-6, 2.79) for the Dash. The Hillcats On-Deck Show powered by Honda/Suzuki of Lynchburg will go on the air at 6:40pm. Listen live to Erik Wilson with the the call on 97.9 FM The Planet and online at lynchburg-hillcats.com