Lynchburg takes down P-Nats
The Hillcats picked up their second victory against the Potomac Nationals thanks to offensive contributions from top to bottom Saturday night. Highlighting the 7-2 Hillcats win was Robby Hefflinger’s second home run in as many days. The story on the Nationals side wasn’t just about losing the game, it’s largely centered on losing the number two prospect in the organization, Anthony Rendon, after he injured his ankle rounding third base in the fourth inning.
It was a battle of lefties with the Hillcats’ Ronan Pacheco taking on the Nats’ Bobby Hansen. After a quick top half of the first inning, thanks to Pacheco not allowing a hit, the Hillcats bats picked up right where they left off last night.
Things got started with centerfielder Matt Lipka hitting a dribbler down the first base line; Hasen rushed to make a play but threw it in the outfield as Lipka touched first. Lipka was able to scurry to second on the error. Second baseman Tommy La Stella added to his RBI total after ripping a one-hopper over the head of a crouched Justin Bloxom playing first base. Catcher Evan Gattis worked a walk, followed by third baseman Edward Salcedo’s infield single. With the bases loaded the Hillcats first baseman, Chris Garcia, hit a slow grounder to the Nationals third baseman, Anthony Rendon, whose only play was to first. Scoring on the play was La Stella and the ‘Cats lead was extended to 2-0.
The Nationals started the top of the second off with a Bloxom walk, but a fielder’s choice, a strikeout, and batter’s interference ended any hope of putting a run on the board.
The Hillcats continued the hitfest with left fielder Robby Hefflinger’s monster opposite field home run to start the bottom of the second. Catcher Breaden Schlehuber was plunked with a curveball after the Hefflinger homer. After Lipka was retired, shortstop Nick Ahmed hit into a fielder’s choice and reached first. Eventually he stole second and La Stella walked to keep the inning alive. The next batter, Gattis, got his first RBI of the season after lining a single to right field to extend the Hillcats lead to 4-0.
Pacheco continued to shut out the Nationals lineup through four innings, but partly because of an undisclosed injury to the Nats third baseman and number six overall pick, Anthony Rendon.After reaching on a double, a line drive single Bloxom looked all but sure to score Rendon. As he rounded third, Rendon took an awkward turn and layed flat on the field as he writhed in pain. Eventuall,y he was tagged out, but that was inconsequential to the rising star. Rendon was helped off the field by a pair of trainers with no official word on the injury available at this time.
On the defensive side, Sean Nicol took Rendon’s spot and the Nationals made a pitching change to LHP Paul Applebee, who cruised through three innings.
RHP Cody Martin made his debut with the Hillcats and took down the Nats in order in the fifth inning. After Applebee’s stellar appearance, the Nationals brought in LHP Ryan Demmin who breezed through his first inning of work but ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh. He led the inning off hitting La Stella. Salcedo added a single that moved La Stella to third. After a Garcia groundout, Manager Brian Rupp turned to Righty Cameron Selik to end the inning. However, right fielder David Rohm blasted a fastball out to the right field gap that plated two and extended the lead to 6-0.
Lefty Blaine Sims was next to get a crack at the Nats line-up and was able to escape a two out double he gave up in the sixth and retire the side in order in the seventh.The top of the eighth was a different story as Sims gave up two singles and a two RBI double to Nicol, his second in as many at-bats. The Hillcats manager, Luis Salazar, made the call to the bullpen and brought in RHP Juan Jamie. Despite walking the first batter, Jamie was able to get out of the inning without allowing any more runs to score.
For good measure, the ‘Cats added another run in the bottom of the eighth. Lipka tripled, giving him his first multi-hit game. He would score on an Ahmed RBI groundout.
The ninth was completed in order by Jamie and the Hillcats got their second consecutive victory.
The winning pitcher was Cody Martin (1-0) who went one perfect inning. The losing pitcher was Bobby Hansen (0-1). He went two innings, giving up five hits and four runs while walking two.
Tomorrow, Lynchburg will send the number 13 prospect in the organization, RHP J.R. Graham (0-0) to take on RHP Adam Olbrychowski (0-0).
A special Easter Egg Hunt will be held after the game for kids of all ages, in addition to the Sunday Faith Night festivities, Autograph Sunday and kids 14 and under running the bases. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05pm. The gates at City Stadium will open at 1:00pm.