The Lynchburg Hillcats (22-24) took the finale at Pfitzner Stadium 6-4 against the Potomac Nationals (24-21) tonight. Lucas Sims matched a career-long with seven innings, and set a season-high as well. He allowed just three runs and earned his team-best fifth win of the season. The ‘Cats took three of five this week in Woodbridge pulling them within 2.5 games of the first place P-Nats.
Sims was on his game tonight sitting down the side in order in four of his first five innings. However, in all three innings in which he didn’t go 1-2-3, he allowed a run. This was largely because four of the five hits he gave up were doubles, and three of those doubles scored, the other drove in a run.
He was given an early lead when the Hillcats scored four runs in the third inning off Potomac starter John Simms. Josh Elander and Levi Hyams both contributed RBI doubles in the rally that saw eight Hillcats bat.
The headline going into the game was MLB-rehabber Adam LaRoche starting at first base for the Nationals. He was quiet, going 0-for-2 with a pair of fly outs before coming out after his scheduled five innings.
Lynchburg scored a fifth run in the seventh inning when Kevi Ahrens hit his second sac fly of the night. He now has 25 RBIs this season, most of any Hillcat.
Sims (5-3) left the game after seven with a 5-3 lead. Benino Pruneda took over and got into trouble in the eighth. He gave up a single, walked a man and another single loaded the bases with no outs. Oscar Tejeda then grounded out softly to third base bring a run home. The ‘Cats elected to intentionally walk left-handed batter Shawn Pleffner to load the bases again. The strategy worked as Pruneda struck out Randolph Oduber and got Will Piwnica-Worms lined out to shortstop to end the threat.
Jose Peraza tripled to lead off the ninth for Lynchburg and Kyle Wren drove him in with a sac fly to center.
With a 6-4 lead, Pruneda went back out to pitch the ninth. He gave up a one-out single to Pedro Severino but stranded runner, hanging on for his first save of the season.
The Hillcats now travel home for a seven-game home stand. They welcome the Winston-Salem Dash for a four-game series beginning with a 6:05pm first pitch Friday night. The gates open at 5pm and the first 1,000 kids in attendance will get a free Hillcats green and yellow pom-pom presented by Children’s Dentistry and Orthodontics of Lynchburg. It’s also a fireworks night presented by Bee Line Towing. The live radio broadcast will go on the air at 5:40pm with the Hillcats On-Deck Show presented by Amtrak Virginia on 97.9 The Planet.