Trailing 6-4 with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning, Jose Peraza hit a sharp single to left field, and a misplay by Courtney Hawkins allowed three runs to score and give Lynchburg a 7-6 victory at Calvin Falwell Field Monday evening.
After overcoming a four-run deficit earlier in the game thanks in part to a Joe Odom home run, the Hillcats (25-25) found themselves down by a pair as they stepped to the plate for the final time. Eric Garcia walked to lead off the inning, and Winston-Salem (19-30) called upon Kyle Hansen out of the bullpen.
After a fielder’s choice off the bat of Daniel Castro for the first out, Levi Hyams drove a pinch-hit double down the right field line to put two runners in scoring position. Tyler Tewell grabbed a bat to pinch hit and drew a walk to load the bases for the eventual hero.
On a 1-2 pitch, Peraza lined a ball to left field, which looked like it was going to tie the game at 6-all. But Hawkins had the ball skip off his mitt and roll past him, which caused manager Luis Salazer to wave Tewell around third base and slide in safely at home for the winning run. Peraza finished the game 2-for-5 with two RBIs to give him 18 total for the season.
Lynchburg fell behind early after Winston-Salem saw its leadoff man, Tim Anderson, single on the very first pitch of the game and score three batters later on an RBI single by Jason Coats. The Dash added three unearned runs in the fourth with an RBI single by Martin Medina and a two-run base hit by Tim Anderson. Joey DeMichele, Keon Barnum and Medina all scored in the frame.
The first four runs of the contest were charged to Jarett Miller, though only one was earned due to an Edison Sanchez fielding error in the fourth. Miller struck out five in four-plus innings and surrendered eight hits before leaving with the Hillcats down, 4-0. The eventual victory went to Benino Pruneda (1-2), who allowed one run and struck out a pair over the final two innings, while Kyle Hansen (2-2) suffered the loss.
The HIllcats first comeback occurred in the fifth when the home team erased a four-run Dash lead. Garcia began the rally with a double over the right fielder’s head, and Castro singled to left. Edison Sanchez drove in Garcia with a groundball that the third baseman Justin Jirschele couldn’t handle.
With two on and still no one out, Odom knotted the score with one swing of the bat. The starting catcher drove a ball high over the 16-foot-tall fence in left field for his second home run of the season, giving him nine RBIs this year. Odom’s blast deadlocked the game at 4-4. In the process, he tied his career high of three RBIs in a game, which he established against Frederick on April 13.
The Dash broke the tie quickly in the top of the sixth with a one-out walk by Adam Heisler, who stole second base and scored on an RBI single by Anderson. Anderson, who also made multiple extraordinary plays in the field, went 3-for-5 in the contest with three RBIs and a run scored. Winston-Salem added its final run in the ninth with an RBI single by Hawkins to take a 6-4 lead at the time.
Peraza’s hit provided Lynchburg with its fourth walk-off win of the season, and its fifth victory in the team’s final at-bat this year. The Hillcats reached the .500 mark for the first time since April 21 and are now only a half-game behind Potomac and Wilmington for first place in the Northern Division.
Lynchburg continues its homestand with a three-game series against Frederick, beginning with a Tuesday night game at 6:05pm. Wes Parsons (3-2, 3.92) will be opposed by Mark Blackmar (2-1, 4.50) of the Keys. Gates open at 5pm, and fans who can’t make it to City Stadium can hear the action on 97.9 The Planet beginning with the Hillcats On-Deck Show presented by Amtrak Virginia at 5:40pm.