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Minors Roundup: ‘Cats win pitching duel, Squirrels split with NH, P-Nats fall to Keys

‘Cats win pitching duel Two of the top pitchers in the Carolina League met tonight at Field and did not disappoint. The Hillcats bested the Pelicans 2-1 in an expected pitchers’ duel. RHP J.R. Graham went seven innings for Lynchburg and only allowed one run on his way to his league-leading seventh win of the season.

Pelicans’ starter Cody Buckel pitched well, but for the second time in two weeks, was out done by Graham. The two matched up on May 23 in Myrtle Beach, and the final of the game was 2-1 as well. Graham winning the game, and Buckel losing.

The first Hillcats run scored in the top of the third inning. Braeden Schlehuber singled to lead off the frame. He was sacrificed to second, and two batters later, Nick Ahmed singled him home. It was 1-0 Lynchburg.

Schlehuber led off the fifth inning with a single as well. Again, Emerson Landoni was asked to sacrifice him to to second base, which he did without issue. Mycal Jones drove in Schlehuber with his lone hit on the night. Schlehuber finished the night, 3-for-4 and scored both Lynchburg runs. They led 2-0 heading into the later innings.

Buckel didn’t make it through the sixth inning. Two singles and an error loaded the bases. Then Schlehuber grounded to the third baseman Christian Villanueva. Villanueva stepped on third and threw home where a tag was applied for a double play. Buckel was then taken out of the game. Submariner Ben Rowen got the final out of the sixth without a run scoring.

Graham gave up his one and only run in the bottom of the sixth. Cafe Martinez doubled to lead off the inning. He advanced to third base on a groundball to first, and then scored on an infield single for Tomas Telis.

Graham (7-1) completed seven innings, giving up just four hits, walking none, and struck out five on his way to the win. Buckel (4-3) surrendered two earned on seven hits, while walking two and striking out five in his losing effort.

RHP Andrew Wilson recorded his fifth hold of the season with a scoreless eighth, and RHP Juan Jaime got his tenth save in ten opportunities with a scoreless ninth.

The Hillcats are now 30-28 this season. They lead the Northern Division by 2.5 games with just 12 games to play in the first half.


Squirrels split with NH The Richmond Flying Squirrels (28-32) fell to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (22-36), 3-0, as the two clubs completed Wednesday’s suspended ballgame on Thursday night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.  However, the Squirrels rolled behind their ace right-hander, Chris Heston, to a, 6-3, win in the finale to earn the series win.

A lengthy rain-delay following the third inning on Wednesday night forced the suspension of the ballgame. Both starting pitchers had been outstanding in their three innings on the hill. Richmond right-hander Andy Reichard did not allow a hit, walked one and struck out four over three nearly perfect innings. New Hampshire lefty Brett Cecil faced the minimum over his three innings. He allowed a first-inning single to Ehire Adrianza, but rolled a double-play to finish the frame. He retired the side in order in the second and third innings.

Richmond right-hander Daryl Maday replaced Reichard when the game resumed on Thursday night.  He recorded the first two outs in the fourth, but Mike McDade belted his 10th home run of the season to right field with two down.  The blast, off a 3-2 fastball from Maday, put the Fisher Cats in front, 1-0.

McDade got Maday again in the sixth inning, extending the New Hamsphire lead to 2-0.  Brian Bocock contributed a soft-single into left field with one out.  A batter later, McDade drilled a 3-2 breaking-ball from Maday off the wall in center field.  Bocock, who was off on the pitch, came around with the second Fisher Cats run.

New Hampshire right-hander Ronald Uviedo (3-2) followed Cecil in the ballgame.  He worked three scoreless innings for his third win of the season.  He allowed just two hits, walked none and struck out three.

Maday (2-5) worked 3 2/3 innings and allowed three runs to take the loss.  He conceded four hits, walked none and struck out a season-high seven.  The final run surrendered by Maday scored in the seventh inning.  John Tolisano cracked a two-out double and Maday was lifted for lefty Chris Gloor.  Brian Jeroloman singled into center field to plate Tolisano.  The run was charged to Maday.

Gloor did extend his scoreless-innings string to 18 with his one-inning outing.  Gloor’s streak now equals right-hander Brett Bochy’s string to start the season for the longest of the year for a Richmond hurler.

In the nightcap, Heston (6-2) was in control early.  He cruised through six scoreless innings before a speed-bump in the seventh inning.  Heston was touched up for three runs in the seventh inning to cap the scoring in the ballgame, but turned in a complete game for his sixth win of the season.  Heston departed the ballgame with a 0.98 ERA, the top mark in the Eastern League.  He permitted three runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out six.

After two scoreless innings in the finale, the Squirrels erupted offensively in the third.  Fisher Cats’ right-hander Deck McGuire opened the inning with a walk to Ryan Cavan.  Joel Weeks bunted him to second and Gary Brown cracked an RBI double into the left-field corner.  Nick Liles followed and punched a triple into the right-field corner for a 2-0 lead.  Juan Perez completed the uprising with a double into the left-field corner to bring in Liles.

Richmond added three more against McGuire in the fourth as Joel Weeks smacked his second three-run home run of the season to right field.  Mark Minicozzi and Ehire Adrianza were on ahead of blast with singles.

McGuire (2-7) exited to the loss after five innings.  He surrendered six runs – all earned – on six hits.  He walked two and struck out four.


P-Nats fall to Keys The Frederick Keys used three solo homers to beat the Potomac Nationals 6-2 at Harry Grove Stadium on Thursday night.  With the loss, Potomac falls four games behind Lynchburg with 11 games to play in the Northern Division First Half race.

Frederick’s Mike Flacco opened the scoring with a solo homer against P-Nat starter Adam Olbrychowski in the second inning.  Flacco’s third home run of the season gave the Keys a 1-0 lead.

The Nationals loaded the bases with no out in the fourth against Frederick hurler Kyle Simon but couldn’t score.  Back-to-back strikeouts then a sensational diving catch by Bobby Stevens preserved a 1-0 Keys lead.

In the bottom half of the inning, Aaron Baker led off the inning with a monster shot down the right field line to increase the Keys advantage to 2-0.

The P-Nats finally got to Simon in the top of the sixth.  Zach Walters led off with a hit, his third in his first three at bats and J.R. Higley was hit by a pitch.  J.P. Ramirez hit a bloop single to right center field scoring Walters.  Higley scored on a wild pitch to tie the game 2-2.  Simon gave up two runs, hit three batters, walked two and struck out two in his five and a third innings not factoring into the decision.

Frederick broke the tie in the bottom half of the sixth with two runs.  A Mike Flacco walk loaded the bases with one out and took Olbrychowski out of the game who had tossed exactly 100 pitches.  Ryan Demmin came into the game and walked in a run with a 3-2 pitch in the dirt against Michael Mosby giving the Keys a 3-2 lead.  The next batter Garabez Rosa hit a single that increased the Keys lead to 4-2.

A Flacco single in the seventh scored Ty Kelly extended the lead to 5-2.  The Keys added another run off of Demmin with Rosa hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning to give Frederick a 6-2 lead.  It was the second home run of season and the third solo home run for Frederick on the contest.

Jason Gurka (1-1) tossed two and two-thirds hitless innings in relief to earn the win for Frederick. Olbrychowski (2-5) gave up four runs — two of which were left on base when he left the game — and struck out five taking the loss.