augusta free press news

Lynchburg Hillcats lock up playoff spot

lynchburg hillcatsThe Lynchburg Hillcats punched their playoff ticket on Saturday, beating the Salem Red Sox, 9-3, in the first game of the double-header, while dropping the night cap, 4-3, on a walk-off single.

Lynchburg (69-66, 40-28) will continue their series with Salem (64-73, 31-37) through Monday, before playing the Potomac Nationals in a best-of-five series beginning on Wednesday night in Lynchburg.

Game One

The Hillcats ambushed Red Sox starter Daniel Gonzalez (Loss, 8-8) in the first inning. With one out, Mitch Longo reached after being hit by a pitch. Nolan Jones then singled, and Trenton Brooks lined an RBI double down the right field line, scoring Longo to give the Hillcats a 1-0 lead. Later in the frame, Gavin Collins crushed a three-run home run, his fifth of the year, pushing Lynchburg ahead 4-0.

The visitors piled it on in the third. Jones and Brooks reached on back-to-back singles to start the inning, setting up Anthony Miller, who drilled an RBI double to center to score Jones. Collins followed by ripping an RBI single past a drawn in infield to plate Brooks. After an RBI fielder’s choice from Emmanuel Tapia, Austen Wade belted a two-run home run, his first of the year, extending the Hillcats lead to 9-0.

Gonzalez allowed nine earned runs on nine hits over three innings.

Tanner Tully (Win, 6-11) was masterful in his start for Lynchburg. The left-hander tossed a complete game, his second of the year, allowing just three runs (two earned) over seven innings.

Jerry Downs hit a solo home run and a sac fly, leading to two of the three Salem runs.

The game started after a 44 minute delay due to rain.

Game Two

Leading 3-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Salem plated two runs to win on a walk-off, beating Lynchburg, 4-3.

Jean Carlos Mejia (Loss, 0-1) made a bid for complete game, but allowed a lead off walk to Michael Osinski and a single to Jake Romanski to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Kyle Nelson was summoned from the bullpen, and allowed an RBI double to Ryan Scott that tied the game at 3-3. A few betters later, with the bases loaded, Tyler Hill ripped an RBI single to send Salem to a walk-off win.

Salem opened the scoring by plating two runs in the first inning. Hill led off with a double and scored on an RBI single from Josh Tobias. Later in the frame, Osinski scored Tobias on a sacrifice fly.

Lyncburg went ahead with three runs in the sixth. Josh Rolette led off with a single and Dillon Persinger doubled to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Anthony Miller roped a game-tying two-run double, and Jose Medina countered with an RBI double of his own to give Lynchburg a short-lived 3-2 lead. Miller now has seven RBI over his last three games.

Mejia went six innings, allowing four earned runs on five hits, striking out three.

Hunter Smith pitched five scoreless frames for Salem in a spot start.

The Hillcats and Red Sox continue their series on Sunday. Right-hander Eli Morgan (7-7, 4.02) will get the ball for Lynchburg, opposite of righty Denyi Reyes (2-2, 2.54). First pitch is scheduled at 4:05 p.m. at Haley Toyota Field.

Max Gun and Matt Present will get you set with pre-game coverage beginning at 3:55 p.m. on TuneIn Radio and Radio434.

The Hillcats will host post-season games against the Potomac Nationals on September 5 and 6 at City Stadium. Both contests will start at 6:30 p.m. Fans can purchase $2 tickets, and also receive $2 hot dogs and $2 beers at the game.

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