A pitchers duel took a turn in favor of the Lynchburg Hillcats in the eighth inning today. The Lynchburg Hillcats batted around the order, scored five runs to break a 2-2 tie, and went on to beat the Frederick Keys 8-3. The win completed a three-game sweep for the HIllcats (19-18, 53-54), their third sweep of the season. It was also the second time they have swept the Keys (16-20, 48-55).
The first three innings were scoreless before both sides traded runs in the fourth. Levi Hyams led off the top of the fourth with a triple. After a shallow fly out to right field failed to bring him home, Justin Bloxom grounded out to second base collecting an RBI. The Keys answered with a sac fly in the bottom of the frame. Trey Mancini doubled to lead off, and Brenden Webb drove him in three batters later with a fly ball to center field.
The Hillcats regained the lead in the sixth. Joe Odom doubled and moved to third base on a groundout to shortstop. Hyams then drew a walk before Jose Martinez hit into a 6-4-3 groundout. Jerome Pena made a diving stop. His flip to second base did not get Hyams, but the relay to first was still in time to retire Martinez while Odom scored from third.
Cody Scarpetta finsihed his night with a scoreless sixth frame. He gave up one run on three hits, walked four, and struck out four. He would take a no-decision as the Keys tied the score in the seventh.
David Peterson took over in relief. The first two batters singled. Joel Hutter then put down a sacrifice bunt back to the mound, but Peterson decided to throw to second and no outs were recorded. Pena followed with sac fly to center field tying the score 2-2. Johnny Ruetigger then hit a one-hopper to the mound. Peterson snared the ball with a backhand, but when he went to throw to second base there was no one there. Emerson Landoni at shortstop thought the ball was going to get by Peterson and was ready to field the ball instead of covering second. The bases were loaded again. Peterson then struck out Lucas Herbst and induced a pop-up to shortstop from Mancini to end the inning.
Mark Blackmar took a no-decision for the Keys giving up two runs over seven innings of work, but as soon as the bullpen took over, the Hillcats pulled away. The ‘Cats scored five runs in the eighth off of Matt Hobgood. All nine batters came to the plate. Hyams reached on an error as a run scored and Bloxom collected RBI single. Then, with two outs, Kevin Ahrens delivered a three-run double to put the Hillcats up 7-2.
Jason Esposito hit a solo homer for the Keys in the eighth to make it 7-3. Then, David Nick hit a solo shot in the ninth to give the Hillcats their ultimate 8-3 advantage.
Peterson (1-0) was charged with a blown save, but also earned the win, while Hobgood (2-3) suffered the loss allowing five runs on three hits in an inning of work.
The Hillcats have an off-day tomorrow before hosting the Wilmington Blue Rocks for a three game series Tuesday – Thursday. First pitch Tuesday night is set for 7:05pm. The gates will open at 6pm. Left-hander Daniel Watts (2-3, 6.06) will start for the Hillcats against a starter to be announced for the Blue Rocks. For ticket information, please visit lynchburg-hillcats.com or call 434-528-1144. The live radio broadcast will go on the air at 6:40 with the Hillcats On-Deck Show presented by Amtrak Virginia. Erik Wilson and Kyle West will have the call on 97.9 The Planet.