Puckett shuts down Lynchburg in 6-2 defeat
A.J. Puckett retired 20 batters in a row at one point, and the Hillcats only mustered four total hits Wednesday evening in a 6-2 defeat at City Stadium.
The Blue Rocks plated the first run of the game in the opening frame. After a single, Nick Heath stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. Chris Devito followed up with a single to left field to give Wilmington a 1-0 lead. The Hillcats wasted no time answering in the bottom half. After back-to-back hits from Ka’ai Tom and Willi Castro to start, Sicnarf Loopstok grounded into a double play, bringing in Tom from third. Tom’s hit was a leadoff double, marking his 19th two-bagger of the year.
Wilmington took the lead for good in the third. Jecksson Flores led off with a home run to left. Later in the inning, Brandon Downes cracked a two-run roundtripper, driving in D.J. Burt and giving Wilmington a 4-1 lead. Chase Vallot used a long ball of his own in the seventh to give the Blue Rocks a 5-1 advantage.
Beginning with Loopstok’s double play in the first inning, Puckett set down 20 consecutive hitters until the end of the seventh inning. In the eighth, the Hillcats finally broke through with a leadoff triple by Martin Cervenka. A groundball from Yonathan Mendoza made it 5-2. Just one inning later, after a double and a wild pitch moved Wander Franco to third, Roman Collins pushed the run across to make the final margin 6-2.
Brock Hartson (4-4) earned a quality start, allowing only three earned runs over six innings pitched. Unfortunately, he was on the hook for the loss. Blue Rocks starter A.J. Puckett (7-7) improved to 2-0 against the Hillcats this season, allowing two runs on three hits over eight frames.
The series concludes Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Shao Ching Chiang (7-5, 3.87) takes on right-hander Andres Machado (4-7, 5.37). Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. for a Thirsty Thursday presented by Miller Lite, Yuengling & 97.9 FM The Planet. The game can be heard live at www.lynchburg-hillcats.com with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:20 p.m.