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Rice spoils Lynchburg attempt at sweep

lynchburg hillcatsIan Rice hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning to tie the game, 6-6, and force extra innings. He stepped up to the plate one inning later and ended it with a single to left to give Myrtle Beach a 7-6 victory at TicketReturn.com Field Sunday night.

Looking for its first three-game sweep at Myrtle Beach since 2005, the Hillcats held a 6-4 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. Trevor Frank, who had not blown a save since Opening Day, entered from the bullpen. Yasiel Balaguert doubled to begin the frame, and Ricehomered deep to left field to even the score, 6-all. It snapped a streak of 16 consecutive saves for Frank.

In the 10th inning, David Bote singled with two outs, and Balaguert reached on an error to extend the inning for Rice. The 29th-round pick from a year ago came through once again with a single to left field that drove in Bote and ended the contest.

Lynchburg netted all six of its runs in the sixth. Trailing 4-0 at the beginning of the stanza, Francisco Mejia walked, and Anthony Santanderdoubled to put two runners in scoring position. Tyler Krieger knocked in one with a base hit, and a ground-rule double by Taylor Murphyplated another. Alex Monsalve was hit by a pitch, and Yonathan Mendoza drew a bases-loaded walk to cut it to 4-3. Connor Marabell tied the score with a groundout. The next batter, Mark Mathias, belted a double to break the tie and give Lynchburg a 6-4 advantage. The ‘Cats scored six times on only four hits in the sixth.

Lynchburg fell to 16-17 in one-run games and 6-6 in extra innings…This marked only the second defeat for the Hillcats when leading after eight innings, dropping to 58-2 in such cases.

Lynchburg enjoys an Off Day Monday before opening a six-game homestand Tuesday with a three-game series against the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Sean Brady (11-5, 4.64) will start for the Hillcats at 6:30 p.m. Fans can listen to the action on 93.3 FM and 1320 AM as well as www.lynchburg-hillcats.com, beginning with the Hillcats On-Deck Show at 6:15 p.m.