Lynchburg Hillcats rally falls short in 4-3 loss
The Lynchburg Hillcats scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning but fell 4-3 to the Wilmington Blue Rocks, stranding the tying run at second base. Aaron Brooks tossed a season-high eight innings, keeping the Hillcats scoreless on just five hits. With three knocks in the ninth inning, the Hillcats ended up out-hitting the Blue Rocks 8-7 but still fell by one run.
The game was scoreless through the first three innings. A.J. Holland retired the first eight Blue Rocks he faced, before walking one and giving up a single before getting through his third blank frame. Then, in the fourth, the first four batters reached via three hits and a walk. Cheslor Cuthbert doubled in a runs, and Jared Schlehuber singled home another to make it 2-0. Wilmington continued to rally in the fifth inning. Holland walked two more in that frame while giving up on more hit. Cuthbert contributed another RBI on a fielder’s choice. An error allowed another run to score. It was 4-0 Blue Rocks.
Meanwhile, Brooks was dealing on the other side. He gave up a leadoff single to Matt Lipka in the first inning before retiring 14 in a row. Ross Heffley broke up the streak with a two-out single in the fifth, but went stranded when Elmer Reyes grounded out behind him.
The Hillcats would collect one hit in each of the last four innings Brooks through but never plated any runs off the starter.
Robinson Yambati relieved Brooks in the ninth and the game got interesting. Emerson Landoni led off the inning with a single. Shawn McGill then grounded into a fielder’s choice. After McGill advanced to second on fielder’s indifference, Robby Hefflinger singled, putting runners at first and third. David Rohm then hit a ground ball off the glove of shortstop Jack Lopez, bring McGill home and leaving runners at first and second and one out. Kyle Kubitza followed with an RBI-single plating Hefflinger and moving Rohm to third. The tying run was on first with just one out. Kubitza swiped second putting the tying run in scoring position with Heffley at the plate. Heffly hit a sacrifice fly to left-center field. Lane Adams made a spectacular diving catch to rob Heffley, but Rohm still came into score, while Kubitza remained at second base. Reyes followed with a groundout to first and the game ended 4-3 in favor of Wilmington.
The error on Lopez led to two of the three ninth inning runs being unearned against Yambati.
Brooks (2-3) earned the Win, while Holland (3-2) took the loss. Holland gave up four runs, three earned in six innings of work.
The Hillcats dropped their second in a row and are now 23-19, while the Blue Rocks improve to 21-23 winning their third straight.
Game two of the series is set for tomorrow night at 6:35pm at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington. RHP Ryan Weber (2-1, 3.27) makes his return to the rotation for the Hillcats against RHP Kyle Zimmer (0-3, 4.86) for the Blue Rocks. Listen live to all the action starting with the Hillcats On-Deck Show powered by Honda/Suzuki of Lynchburg at 6:10pm. Erik Wilson will have the call on 97.9 FM The Planet and online at lynchburg-hillcats.com