Lynchburg nips Wilmington, 3-2
The Lynchburg Hillcats were in danger of dropping back to .500 for the first time since April 23 on Tuesday night but Robby Hefflinger hit his second home run in as many nights to quell that theory in a 3-2 victory over the Wilmington Blue Rocks at City Stadium. A.J. Holland pitched into the eighth inning and got his first win in over a month to help the Hillcats snap a three-game losing streak.
Holland, who entered the game with the third-highest walk total in the league, did not allow a free pass in 7.1 innings of work. Holland (4-4) allowed two runs on nine hits while striking out six to pick up his first win since May 10.
The Hillcats (2-3, 38-36) again fell behind early. Wilmington (2-3, 35-40) got an RBI-single from Jared Schlehuber in the third to plate Geulin Beltre, who led off the inning with a double, to put the Blue Rocks up 1-0 after three innings. The Hillcats have trailed at some point in all five games of the second half.
Wilmington starter Kyle Smith was perfect his first trip through the order but Matt Lipka finally got to him with a bunt single to lead off the fourth inning. Lipka got to second base on a swinging bunt before a pitch hit Trent Moses. Hefflinger came up and popped the first pitch up on the infield.
With two outs, Kyle Kubitza hit a bouncing ball that was bobbled by Blue Rocks first baseman Dennis Raben and deflected into foul territory. Lipka took advantage and scored from second, sliding in just ahead of a throw to the plate to tie the game at 1-1 after four innings.
That score held until the sixth when Hefflinger blasted his 21 home run of the season, which paces all of Advanced-A baseball, to put the Hillcats up by one.
Smith (4-4) was pulled after six innings. He gave up two runs, one earned, on two hits and a pair of hit batters while striking out four in the tough-luck loss.
A sacrifice fly from Elmer Reyes scored David Rohm in the seventh inning to provide some insurance. The run came off reliever Cody Fassold.
That extra run proved important as the Blue Rocks got a run back in the eighth. Schlehuber gapped a one-out double to end Holland’s night. Ronan Pacheco came on and gave up a ground ball single to right field to put runners at the corners before an RBI-groundout from Daniel Mateo made it a one run game.
Pacheco walked the next batter, Jack Lopez, before John Cornely came on and struck out Kenny Swab to strand the tying and go-ahead runs on base. Cornely returned to the mound in the ninth and struck out the side in order to get his second save of the season and snap the three-game skid.
The Hillcats look for back-to-back wins for the first time since a four-game winning streak was snapped May 31 when the series continues Wednesday at 7:05pm at City Stadium. It’s a WLNI Win-Win Wednesday, which means all fans will receive a free ticket to our next Wednesday home game as they walk through the gates. Ryan Weber (4-2, 3.42) gets the start for the Hillcats against Kellen Moen (1-1, 4.14) for Wilmington. If you can’t make it to the game, join Erik Wilson and Jake Levy for the call starting with the Hillcats On-Deck Show, powered by Honda/Suzuki of Lynchburg, on 97.9 FM The Planet and lynchburg-hillcats.com