Lynchburg Hillcats walk off, 2-1, over Carolina Mudcats
With the game tied 1-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, Lynchburg wasted no time sending the Hillcats faithful home happy. Kevin Ahrens drove a ball deep into the left-field corner for a leadoff double, and Justin Bloxom followed with a double of his own past the center fielder Todd Hankins to give Lynchburg a 2-1 victory at Calvin Falwell Field Thursday night.
Bloxom’s double marked the ninth walk-off victory for the Hillcats (46-51), but it was the first that the recently-added first baseman had been a part of after joining the team on June 26. His fly ball past the outstretched mitt of Hankins drove in the pinch-runner David Nick to end the contest and give Lynchburg its first walk-off since Joe Odom’s sacrifice fly on June 23. Bloxom, who has reached base in 10 straight contests, registered his fourth double and his fourth RBI with the Hillcats on the game-winner.
Cody Fassold (1-0) earned the victory in his Hillcats debut after not allowing a run in the ninth inning while striking out two. Benny Suarez (1-3) suffered the loss after working a scoreless eighth but allowing the two deciding hits in the ninth.
For the first time in his seven starts this season, Cody Scarpetta (3-3) did not factor into the decision. The right-hander limited the Mudcats (46-49) to one run on five hits and struck out six batters in six innings. Carolina’s right-handed starter Adam Plutko was even more dominant with six shutout innings. Plutko struck out five and did not walk anyone while only conceding four hits.
The Mudcats scored their lone run in the second inning. Alex Monsalve hit a one-out single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on the next batter with an RBI single by James Roberts. Scarpetta proceeded to retire the next 10 batters consecutively and 14 of his final 16 overall to conclude his outing and enable a Hillcats comeback.
Aside from the game-winner, Lynchburg scored an unearned run in the seventh. Ahrens reached on a throwing error by the third baseman Yandy Diaz. Emerson Landoni knocked him home with a single to tie the game, 1-1.
The Hillcats now have 11 victories when trailing in the seventh inning or later. Lynchburg’s 18-13 record in one-run contests is the second-best in the Carolina League behind only the Potomac Nationals.
Lynchburg will try to take the series against the Mudcats Friday night at 7:05pm. Gates open at 6pm, and the first 1,000 fans will receive an Evan “El Oso Blanco” Gattis Bobblehead giveaway courtesy of Pepsi. Daniel Watts (1-2, 4.94) will start for the Hillcats against Cole Sulser (3-8, 5.09). Fans can tune in to 97.9 The Planet beginning at 6:40pm for live coverage of the rubbermatch.