Back-to-back four-run innings quickly turned a one-run deficit into a seven-run victory, as the Lynchburg Hillcats used eight two-out RBIs to defeat the Potomac Nationals, 10-3, at Calvin Falwell Field Thursday night.
Trailing 3-2 entering the bottom of the seventh, Kyle Wren reached on a one-out error to spark the rally. Daniel Castro and David Nick recorded consecutive hits with Nick’s single driving home Wren to tie the game, 3-3. Kevin Ahrens walked to load the bases. With two outs in the frame, Emerson Landoni smashed a bases-clearing double into the left-center field gap to give the Hillcats (35-36) a 6-3 advantage.
Lynchburg continued to pour it on Potomac (38-32) in the eighth. Edison Sanchez was hit by a pitch with one out, and Wren doubled to center field for an RBI. After a rare Daniel Castro strikeout, Nick walked. Ahrens came through with two outs in the inning, hitting a double to center field to score Wren and Nick. Levi Hyams followed with an RBI single to increase Lynchburg’s lead to 10-3.
Ahrens finished the game 2-for-3 with two walks to reach base four times. He scored twice and produced four two-out RBIs to give him a team-leading 36 runs batted in for the season. In his 2014 Hillcats debut, Landoni went 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs. Castro also had a three-hit day with two runs scored.
Ronan Pacheco earned the win with two innings of scoreless relief while striking out two. Alex Wilson improved to a perfect 7-for-7 in save opportunities by striking out five and only allowing one hit in the eighth and ninth innings. Wes Parsons did not factor into the decision after allowing three runs, two of which were earned, and striking out four in five innings. The loss went to Ian Dickson after surrendering four runs in 1.1 innings out of the Nationals bullpen.
Potomac struck first with an RBI groundout by Randolph Oduber to score Estarlin Martinez after he lead off the third inning with a triple. The Nationals led 1-0 at that point, but Lynchburg plated two runs in the bottom of the frame on a two-run single by Ahrens that scored Wren and Castro, who both reached on singles.
Lynchburg’s 2-1 lead was short-lived, as the Nationals scored two in the top of the fourth thanks in part to a double by Khayyan Norfork and a pair of errors by Landoni.
Lynchburg will play Potomac in game two of the series Friday night at 7:05pm. Lucas Sims (5-4, 5.00) will start for the Hillcats against lefty Matt Spann (4-1, 3.83). Gates open at 6pm, and the first 1,000 fans will receive a free camouflage cap courtesy of the U.S. Army and WLNI. Live coverage of the contest on 97.9 The Planet begins at 6:40pm.