Lynchburg Hillcats rally, top Potomac Nationals, 7-6
The Lynchburg Hillcats (55-55-Overall, 26-26-Home, 22-18-Second Half) came back from a five run deficit to tie the game and then won it with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth, giving them a 7-6 win over Potomac (50-58-Overall, 24-30-Road, 17-21-Second Half) and forcing a rubber match in the finale tomorrow night.
DH Levon Washington, on the first pitch he saw to begin the eighth inning for the hometown Lynchburg Hillcats, againstLHP Jake Walsh (0-1, 3.00) gave the ‘Cats a 7-6 lead with a solo home run, his third of the season, that RHP Antonio Romero (SV 2) closed out with a scoreless ninth inning to even the series.
RHP Brian Rauh, making his second start since coming back to Potomac after coming off the disabled list, pitched six innings, allowing 11 hits and six runs (all earned), with four walks and seven strikeouts. Rauh did not factor in the decision.
Lynchburg took an early 1-0 lead against Rauh and The Red, White and Blue, scoring a run in the bottom of the first inning. Lynchburg got back-to-back singles to begin the inning, both of which were sinking line drives that found grass in shallow centerfield for Washington and 3B Paul Hendrix. Rauh walked CF Clint Frazier, who reached base in eight straight plate appearances, including reaching on an error later in the ballgame, to load the bases. 1B Nellie Rodriguez laced a fielder’s choice ball to SS Stephen Perez that saw Frazier put out at second base but coming home to score was Washington for the 1-0 lead.
RHP Dace Kime got the nod for Lynchburg and he held Potomac scoreless through the first two innings but had his piñata busted open in the third against Potomac and all with two outs. C Craig Manuel singled to open the half inning. DH Estarlin Martinez followed with a free pass. CF Rafael Bautista laid down a sacrifice bunt up the third base line and OF Narciso Mesa grounded out to the third baseman Hendrix for the second out. 2B Reegie Corona continued his hot hitting with a two-run single that gave Potomac a 2-1 advantage. 1B Grant DeBruin singled home Corona after he stole second base for a 3-1 lead. LF Alec Keller followed with another single and Perez walked to load the bases. 3B Khayyan Norfork reached on an infield single that forced SS Ivan Castillo to go into a dive deep in the whole at short where DeBruin scored for a 4-1 lead and then Manuel, up for the second time in the inning, slapped a two-run single into right bringing home Keller and Perez for a 6-1 lead. RHP Justin Brantley entered the game as Kime was unable to make it out of the third, pitching 2.2 innings and he gave up six runs (all earned) on seven hits, two walks and he struck out one.
Lynchburg, against Rauh, answered the six run third with a four run bottom of the third to make it a one run ballgame. Washington again started the rally for the Hillcats, drawing a lead-off walk. Hendrix singled Washington to second and Frazier lined an RBI double into left field scoring Washington and cutting the lead to 6-2. Frazier now has four doubles in the two games thus far. Rodriguez then singled home his second run of the ballgame, plating Hendrix to make it 6-3. LF Dorssys Paulino hit a line drive sacrifice fly into centerfield that brought home Frazier and two batters later C Eric Haase doubled home Rodriguez to make it a one-run ballgame at 6-5.
Rauh ended up holding the lead after the third despite giving up the four runs in the inning and then held Lynchburg scoreless through the fourth and fifth innings.
Lynchburg was able to tie the game in the sixth when Castillo laid down a beautiful bunt single to reach base. Washington, the hero of the night for Lynchburg, doubled him home for a 6-6 game. Washington, from the lead-off spot had himself a three hit night, knocking in two and scoring three times.
The combination of Brantley, RHP Robbie Aviles, RHP Grant Sides and RHP Antonio Romero were able to hold Potomac off the scoreboard for the final 6.1 innings with Romero earning the save for a scoreless ninth.
Walsh entered the game in the seventh and after issuing a lead-off walk to RF Mike Papi struck out the side, all swinging to end the threat. He remained in the game for the eighth inning and Washington blasted the solo home run that gave Lynchburg the 7-6 win. Walsh ended pitching two innings and gave up just the one hit to Washington while striking out three in the loss.
Potomac fell to four games back in the Carolina League’s Northern Division for the second half title and the loss sets up the rubber match tomorrow night in the finale from Lynchburg City Stadium, with Potomac 17-19 now in one run affairs.
In the finale in the Lynchburg series Potomac will send RHP Reynaldo Lopez (5-7, 4.77) to the mound against RHP Rob Kaminsky (0-0, 0.00) for the ‘Cats, who was just acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline. He will make his debut with the Lynhcburg Hillcats in the finale.
First pitch is set for 6:30 pm from Calvin Falwell Field and you can listen live via the TuneIn Radio app or at www.potomacnationals.com starting at 6:15 pm with the P-Nats lead-off show.
Source: Potomac Nationals