Lynchburg wins in extras, forces deciding playoff game
Bobby Bradley delivered a walk-off single in the 14th inning to give the Lynchburg Hillcats a 6-5 win Thursday night and force a decisive game three Friday at City Stadium. Lynchburg and Potomac combined for 32 hits and 38 men left on base in the playoff thriller.
Potomac broke through first with a lone run in the third, but the ‘Cats answered with a two-run homer from Francisco Mejia after a Tyler Krieger double. Heading into the eighth frame the Hillcats were leading 4-3 before a Victor Robles double tied the game and eventually forced extras.
In the ninth, 10th and 11th frames neither team threatened to score the go-ahead or game-winning run, although Lynchburg did put a man on base in each stanza. Bryan Mejia led off the 12th with a double for the Nats. David Masters used a sacrifice bunt to get him to third, and Dale Carey hit a sacrifice fly to plate Mejia. The Nationals brought in Carolina League All-Star closer Ryan Brinley to face the Hillcats in the 12th. Dorssys Paulino began the stanza with a single before advancing on a sacrifice bunt by Yu-Cheng Chang. Yonathan Mendoza doubled after a soft liner landed among three Potomac fielders.
With two outs in the 13th, Osvaldo Abreu singled to bring up Drew Vettleson. Vettleson doubled to right-center field where Taylor Murphy picked it up and made a strong throw to Krieger, who threw a dart to home for Francisco Mejia to tag out the go-ahead run. Bryan Mejia hit another double to lead off the 14th frame, but he was thrown out at third on a fielder’s choice for the second out. An Austin Davidson strikeout sent the game to the bottom of the 14th.
Mendoza hit a liner over the third baseman’s outstretched glove to start the inning off. Murphy used a sacrifice bunt to push him to second, and Krieger grounded out to put Mendoza on third. Potomac decided to intentionally walk Francisco Mejia and Anthony Santander to get to Carolina League Most Valuable Player Bobby Bradley. Bradley ended the dramatics with a single to right field.
Seven Hillcats recorded multiple hits in the extra-inning affair. Chang was 4-6 with two doubles and two runs scored. Krieger, Mejia and Marabell were each 3-7 in the game. Lynchburg and Potomac each used six pitchers with Justin Garcia earning the win after two scoreless innings of work. Matt Whitehouse delivered with three crucial innings of only allowing one run while striking out six. Luis Lugo started the game and tossed five frames, only allowing one run while he struck out five. Ryan Brinley blew a save for the second time in as many outings against Lynchburg, and Neil Holland took the loss for the Nats.
Lynchburg won its first playoff game since its Mill Cup Championship in 2012, breaking a streak of seven consecutive losses…The ‘Cats and Nats combined to leave 38 runners on base, which exceeded the mark of 29 set on Opening Day against Winston-Salem…This marked the first playoff victory for Lynchburg over the Potomac franchise since the Lynchburg Red Sox defeated the Prince William Cannons in 1991…The Hillcats improved to 7-8 in extra-inning games and 18-19 in one-run contests in 2016…This represented the fourth walk-off victory for the Hillcats at City Stadium this season and the second against the Nationals.
Lynchburg hosts Potomac for a decisive Game Three of the NDCS Friday at City Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Sean Brady (12-6, 4.95) will start against lefty Matthew Crownover 4-4, 4.28). Fans can listen to the action on 93.3 FM and 1320 AM as well as www.lynchburg-hillcats.com, beginning with the Hillcats On-Deck Show at 6:15 p.m.