The Lynchburg Hillcats (20-23) split a pair of finals with the Potomac Nationals (23-19) tonight, falling 6-5 in the completion of a suspended game from April 28, and winning the second game 10-1. Fresh off the disabled list, Josh Elander went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs as well as two walks between the two games.
Play began at 5:30pm in the top of the second inning with Kevin Ahrens at second base with no outs. The game was tied 0-0. Right-hander Dakota Bacus continued his start from April 28. His first pitch was grounded to shortstop but an errant throw to first allowed Edison Sanchez to reach and Ahrens to score. Sanchez came around to score three batters later on an RBI double from Daniel Castro.
Greg Ross took over on the mound for the Hillcats in the bottom of the second inning, technically relieving Jarett Miller who threw the first inning of the game in April. Ross tossed a season-long seven innings. He held the Nationals scoreless through his first four innings. Potomac pushed their first run across in the sixth when a two-out error by Castro at shortstop allowed a run to score.
The Hillcats added runs in the fifth and seventh innings. Ahrens singled in a run in the fifth, and Jose Peraza scored on another error in the seventh. The Hillcats and Nationals combined to commit seven errors on the night.
Leading by three going into the eighth, Ross went back out for his seventh inning and gave up the lead. Four straight singles and sac fly evened the score going into the ninth.
The ‘Cats took the lead back in the ninth with the help of another miscue. With two outs, Ahrens hit a groundball to shortstop and Stephen Perez threw the ball away at first base again allowing Peraza to score.
Nate Hyatt relieved Ross in the ninth looking for his third save of the season. He walk two and struck out two before Shawn Pleffner came up with two outs and runners at first and second. Pleffner swung at 3-1 pitch and connected with catcher Anthony Nunez’ glove. The catcher’s interference loaded the bases. Perez came up and singled to right field driving in two runs giving the Nationals a walk-off 6-5 win.
Hyatt (2-2) suffered the loss and fourth blown save. The win went to Derek Self (1-1) who got the final of the ninth for Potomac.
Game two belonged to the Hillcats from start to finish. Elander hit a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Hillcats an early 2-0 lead. They added three more runs in the third inning with four consecutive hits. Kyle Wren started the string with his first triple of the season, and Levi Hyams finished it with an RBI single.
Zach Jadofsky made his first career start in the second game. He pitched 2.2 innings, allowed one hit, walked three, and struck two. He left the game with runners at first and second and two outs in the third inning. Ronan Pacheco came in and gave up an RBI single to Shawn Pleffner. The run was credited to Jadofsky, adn Pacheco retired the next batter to get out of the inning.
Pacheco pitched 2.1 scoreless innings before Colby Holmes came in for the sixth. Holmes had just been called up from Low-A Rome earlier in the day. He retired all six batters he faced to finish the game for Lynchburg.
The Hillcats added an exclamation point to their win with four runs in the seventh. Hyams highlighted the inning with a three-run triple.
Holmes (1-1) was given the win at the scorer’s discretion, saying Holmes was the most effective reliever for Lynchburg. The loss went to Kylin Turnbull (0-1) for Potomac. He gave up five runs on nine hits in four innings.
The Hillcats remain 3.5 games behind the Nationals for first place in the Northern Division with three more games to play in the next two days in Woodbridge.
A doubleheader to make up for a rainout on April 29 will start with a 5:30pm first pitch Wednesday night. Right-hander Wes Parsons (3-1, 3.72) will start game one for the Hillcats and righty Jarett Miller (1-4, 4.58) will start game two. The starters for Potomac are still to be determined. The Hillcats On-Deck Show presented by Amtrak Virginia will go on the air at 5:20pm. Erik Wilson will have the call on 97.9 The Planet.