For the second straight night, Lynchburg took a lead into the ninth inning, but the Carolina Mudcats overcame it with a late rally to complete a sweep of the Hillcats, 8-7, at Calvin Falwell Field Wednesday night.
Lynchburg (12-18) took a 7-5 advantage into the final frame, but a one-out single by Carolina’s (16-13) Torsten Boss sparked the comeback. Back-to-back walks to Luigi Rodriguez and Ollie Linton loaded the bases. Erik Gonzalez lined a two-run single to right field, and the game was tied, 7-7. After a balk advanced the runners to second and third, Benino Pruneda intentionally walked Jeremy Lucas to load the bases yet again.
With the bases full and one out in the ninth of a tied contest, Pruneda appeared to get the out he needed. Pruneda struck out Anthony Gallas on a breaking ball in the dirt, but the ball squeaked through the legs of Tyler Tewell. Linton scored on the wild pitch, and the Mudcats defeated Lynchburg, 8-7.
Lynchburg entered the series against Carolina with an 8-0 mark when leading after eight innings, but the Mudcats closed the series by taking back-to-back games where they trailed going into the ninth.
Pruneda (0-1) suffered the loss after allowing three runs on two hits and three walks in 1.1 innings. Elvis Araujo (1-1) earned the victory after allowing an unearned run but no hits in the eighth. Benny Suarez earned his first save of the year with a perfect ninth frame that included a strikeout. Lucas Sims did not factor into the decision after starting for the Hillcats and holding Carolina to two earned runs in 5.1 innings.
Lynchburg’s big inning offensively came in the sixth when the Hillcats scored four runs with the aid of only one base hit. Trailing 3-2, Levi Hyams walked, and David Nick reached on a fielding error by the left fielder Rodriguez. Two batters later, the Mudcats intentionally walked Tyler Tewell to load the bases with one out. Following a strikeout, Eric Garcia walked to drive in a run and knot the score at 3-all. Daniel Castro tripled to left field, and the Hillcats surged ahead, 6-3.
Lynchburg had already led twice before the bottom of the sixth rolled around. In the fourth, Jose Peraza doubled and scored on a Will Skinner sacrifice fly to take a 1-0 lead. However, Carolina evened the count in the top of the fifth, 1-1. The Hillcats regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth thanks to Garcia reaching on a single and touching home later in the inning on a throwing error by the third baseman Yhoxian Medina.
After the Hillcats used a four-run sixth to overcome their 3-2 deficit, Carolina chipped away at the margin with a two-run homer by Gallas to make the score 6-5. Lynchburg added an insurance run in the eighth with a sacrifice fly by Daniel Castro, but it proved to not be enough.
Castro finished the contest 3-for-3 with four RBIs for his third three-hit game of the season. Castro also became the third Hillcat to notch four RBIs in a game this year, raising his season output to 13.
Lynchburg begins a seven-game road trip Thursday at Wilmington with a 6:35pm first pitch. Lay Batista (0-0, 3.00) will start for the Hillcats against right-hander Christian Binford (2-1, 1.91). Fans can listen to Erik Wilson live from Frawley Stadium beginning with the Hillcats On-Deck Show presented by Amtrak Virginia at 6:10pm.