Lynchburg Hillcats take rubber match with Blue Rocks
The Hillcats (31-32) used an 11-hit attack against the Blue Rocks (41-24), including a pair of Gavin Collins home runs to lead the offense.
Lynchburg struck for three runs in the first inning. Steven Kwan led off the game with a double and moved to third base on a passed ball. After Nolan Jones walked, Oscar Gonzalez connected on a sacrifice fly to score Kwan, giving Lynchburg a 1-0 lead. Next up was Collins, who clobbered a two-run home run, widening the gap to 3-0.
Leading off the fourth inning, Collins crushed his second homer of the day, a solo shot, to push the lead to 4-0.
Wilmington began to chip away in the fifth inning. Cristian Perez singled to start the frame and moved to second base on a wild pitch. Colby Schultz followed with an RBI single to score Perez and trim the deficit to 4-1. Later in the inning, With Schultz at third after singles from Sebastian Rivero and Jose Marquez, Blake Perkins singled him home with an RBI infield single to make it a 4-2 contest.
In the top of the sixth, the Hillcats got a run back. Gonzalez reached on an infield single and moved to third on a single from Collins. Connor Smith then grooved an RBI double, plating Gonzalez to extend the lead to 5-2.
The Blue Rocks made it a one-run contest in the bottom of the sixth. Dennicher Carrasco led off the inning with a triple and scored after an RBI single by Perez. Later in the inning with Perez at third base with one out, Marquez lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to tighten the game at 5-4.
Lynchburg would pull away with a three-run eighth inning. With one out, Trenton Brooks singled and Smith and Mike Rivera walked to load the bases. Luke Wakamatsu hit a two-run single and Kwan lined a run-scoring double to give the Hillcats some insurance at 8-4, capping the scoring.
Collins becomes the first Hillcats player to pick up a multi-homer game this year.
Kirk McCarty started for Lynchburg and made his 2019 season debut. He fired three scoreless innings and struck out four. Zach Draper followed out of the bullpen and surrendered two earned runs on four hits in 1.1 innings. Aaron Pinto (Win, 1-0) gave up two runs in 2.2 frames of relief. Hector Hernandez and Yapson Gomez each worked scoreless innings.
Kris Bubic (Loss, 0-1) started for the ‘Rocks and allowed five earned runs on six hits in 5.1 innings. Robert Garcia gave up the three runs in the eighth inning.
The series now shifts to City Stadium, where the Hillcats and Blue Rocks will match up in a four-game series to round out the first half. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Max Gun and Anders Jorstad will be on the air at 6:20 p.m. with the Hillcats pre-game show on TuneIn Radio and the Radio434 App.
Home stand highlights include Thirsty Thursday, Fantastic Friday, Sparkling Saturday and Sandlot Sunday. Friday’s game will feature a post-game fireworks show presented by Centra while Saturday’s post-game fireworks show will be presented by Hometown Sales & Leasing Lynchburg & Madison Heights.
For tickets or more information, visit lynchburg-hillcats.com, call 434-528-1144, or visit the City Stadium box office.