Lynchburg Hillcats shut out Wood Ducks on Opening Day
After a hit by pitch and a walk, Luke Wakamatsu stood at second base with no outs in the fourth inning of a scoreless game. Wood Ducks starter Emerson Martinez (0-1) bounced a pitch that ricocheted up the first base line allowing the Lynchburg Hillcats shortstop to scamper all the way around to score in what would be the only run of the ballgame, in a 1-0 shutout on Opening Day in front of 3,092 fans at City Stadium.
The Opening Day crowd was the Hillcats’ largest since 2014.
Sam Hentges got the start for the Hillcats on the mound and despite walking two batters in the first inning, he escaped a jam with a double play ball to end the frame. The twin-killing ignited a spark in the lefty who would set down seven in a row, and allow just one hit over four innings of work.
Anderson Polanco (1-0) followed Hentges and tossed two scoreless innings, helped by an inning ending double play ball to end the fifth. The Hillcats turned three double plays on the evening.
Ben Krauth came on for the seventh and after giving up a leadoff triple to Alex Kowalczyk, he to struck out the next three consecutive Down East batters to strand the tying run at third base.
The Hillcats looked to be in position to add to their lead in the eighth when Wakamatsu and Gavin Collins laced back-to-back singles, but Wood Duck reliever Jacob Shortslef was able to get a groundout and a strikeout to advance the 1-0 game to the ninth.
In his first game as manager, Rougie Odor summoned right hander Henry Martinez from the bullpen. The Dominican Republic native worked around a one out walk, striking out back-to-back Wood Duck hitters to earn his first save of the season.
The Hillcats picked up their first shutout since they defeated Frederick 4-0 in the Division Series September 8th, 2017 and their first 1-0 win since August 3rd, 2017 when they also knocked off the Wood Ducks.
Li-Jen Chu singled twice, picking up the lone two-hit game for Lynchburg, accounting for two of the Hillcats six hits.
The two teams will face off Friday night for game two of the four game set. Right hander Edgar Arredondo will start for the Wood Ducks, opposed by fellow righty Zach Plesac for the Hillcats. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. at City Stadium and the first 1,000 fans will receive a Hillcats schedule magnet.
For tickets, visit Lynchburg-hillcats.com, call 434-528-1144, or stop in to the Hillcats ticket office. Fans can listen to all the action on TuneIn Radio as well as the Radio434 app with Max Gun and Matt Present calling the action.