Lynchburg improves to 5-0 with win over Sox
The Hillcats clinch their second series of the season with a 4-1 win against the Salem Red Sox. Their fifth consecutive win marks the first time in the team’s history that they have started the season with five wins in a row.
In the ‘Cats previous four games they scored in the first frame, today was the first time the couldn’t accomplish that thanks to the hot start by RHP Keith Couch. The first six batters Couch faced were set down in order. His counterpart, RHP Cody Martin, matched his first two scoreless frames and raised him one by retiring the side in order in the top half of the third.
Couch failed to match Martin by giving up a first pitch double to right fielder David Rohm. Just two batters later, second baseman Emerson Landoni got his first hit of the season in his first at-bat. It was a sharp hit groundball up the middle that Landoni legged out. Center fielder Matt Lipka struck out before shortstop Nick Ahmed made his way to the plate. However, with Ahmed up, the fleet footed Landoni expanded his lead at first. Couch went to keep him close with a throw to first, but it caught first baseman Travis Shaw off-guard.
The throw went off the glove of Shaw and into the Red Sox bullpen. Rohm easily scored and Landoni scampered to second to make it 1-0. Ahmed, still at the plate, ripped a double down the line scoring Landoni. With Ahmed on second, designated hitter Tommy La Stella added his eighth RBI of the season with a single up the middle, Ahmed scored and the ‘Cats now had a 3-0 lead. Catcher Evan Gattis walked after La Stella and Couch ended the inning with a strikeout of third baseman Edward Salcedo.
With a three run lead, Martin continued to keep the game in check. He struck out two of the four he faced in the fourth. Lynchburg’s offense wasn’t done scoring though. First baseman Chris Garcia led off the fourth with a single. Then Manager Luis Salazar called for a hit-and-run that was perfectly executed with Rohm at the plate. He smashed his second double of the day into the right center field gap. Garcia hustled around third and beat the throw home standing up. Counch ended the inning with three consecutive strikeouts to strand Rohm at second.
Both Martin and Couch’s day ended in the fifth. The Hillcats sent lefty Blaine Sims into the game for his second appearance of the season. After retiring the initial batter, right fielder Shannon Wilkerson lauched a ball deep off the left field wall and motored around the bases to get his first triple of the season. Left fielder Brandon Jacobs followed that with a bloop single out to left field, scoring Wilkerson easily. Sims settled down and was able to make it through another one and two-thirds innings without allowing another run.
Offensively, the ‘Cats added four more hits that did no damage. The final two innings were pitched by righties Ryan Weber and Juan Jamie. Weber got through his inning giving up a shattered bat single to Jacobs and striking out one.
Jamie came in for his first save opportunity of the season and did not disappoint. He came in and struck out the side in order to earn his first save and give the Hillcats its first 5-0 start in history.
Cody Martin (2-0) got his second win of the season on his first start after going five innings, striking out six, walking two and scattering five hits. Keith Couch (1-1) took the loss in his first start of the season and second appearance. Despite eight strikeouts, Couch yielded four runs–all earned–on seven hits in five innings while walking one.
The series finale with the Salem Red Sox is set for Thursday at 6:05pm.Gates will open at 5pm. Lynchburg will send opening day starter, righty Gus Schlosser (1-0) to the mound to face Ryan Pressly (0-0). Schlosser went eight strong innings giving up six hits and two runs to pick up his first win. Pressly, went three innings in his first start but surrendered five runs on six hits. Thanks to Michael Almanzar’s seventh inning three run bomb. Thursday is Theme Night at Lynchburg City Stadium. Break out your best spandex because it’s “American Gladiator” night. The Hillcats’ live radio broadcast with Erik Wilson and Mike Viso will come on the air at 5:40pm, starting with the Hillcats On-Deck Show powered by Honda/Suzuki of Lynchburg.