Greg Ross struck out six and only allowed two bunt singles in five shutout innings to claim a victory in his first start of the season and earn a split for the Lynchburg Hillcats in a doubleheader against Wilmington at Calvin Falwell Field Wednesday night.
After falling 7-2 in game one, Lynchburg (8-5) answered with a strong outing from Ross (1-0) and timely hitting throughout the lineup to defeat the Blue Rocks (6-7) by a score of 3-2 in the nightcap.
Ross retired the first seven batters he faced, including a perfect second inning where he struck out the side. He also worked perfect frames in the first and fifth, concluding his impressive performance by striking out Terrance Gore to end the fifth inning. The two hits Ross surrendered on the evening combined to travel approximately 100 feet, as they were back-to-back bunt singles in the third inning by Gore and Raul Mondesi.
Lynchburg spotted the right-hander an early lead thanks to back-to-back two-out walks in the first inning by Josh Elander and Kevin Ahrens followed by an RBI single by Edison Sanchez. In the fourth, the Hillcats added two more with an RBI double by Daniel Castro and an RBI single by Jose Peraza to take a 3-0 advantage. For the contest, Lynchburg received six hits from six different players.
Things became dicey in the latter stages of the game when Wilmington pushed two runs across in the top of the sixth and had the tying run at third base, but Alex Wilson was able to induce a ground ball off the bat of Kenny Diekroger to escape. Wilson allowed two hits in the seventh inning, but struck out Hunter Dozier to finish the game and earn his first save of the season.
In the first game of the doubleheader, a thrilling pitcher’s duel developed initially with the two teams combining for only three hits in the first five innings. However, things quickly changed with a leadoff triple by Raul Mondesi in the sixth. The Blue Rocks went on to post seven runs on six hits in the frame to take a commanding 7-0 lead.
Wes Parsons (1-1) took the loss. He had pitched 11 consecutive scoreless frames before the sixth inning. The leadoff triple by Mondesi began a rally that also saw an RBI single by Dozier, a single by Johermyn Chavez and a walk to Cody Stubbs before Parsons left the game. His final stat line showed four runs allowed in 5.1 innings with six strikeouts.
Lynchburg avoided the shutout with back-to-back doubles by Elander and Ahrens in the seventh. Tewell later picked up an RBI on a groundout that scored Ahrens to make the final score 7-2.
Lynchburg will wrap up its three-game set with the Blue Rocks Thursday at 6:05pm. Jarett Miller (0-0, 2.16) will take the mound against LHP Jonathan Dziedzic (2-0, 1.64) in the rubber match. It’s a Theme Thursday at City Stadium with the theme for the series finale being Zombie Night. Fans who arrive dressed as zombies will be admitted to the ballpark for only $5. Live coverage of the game on 97.9 The Planet begins at 5:40pm with the Hillcats On-Deck Show presented by Amtrak Virginia. Erik Wilson and Kyle West will have the call.