Rodriguez hits grand slam in 10-8 Lynchburg Hillcats win

lynchburg hillcatsNellie Rodriguez hit the first Hillcats grand slam since 2013, and Alex Monsalve paced Lynchburg with a four-hit night, including three RBIs, to highlight a 10-8 Hillcats victory Saturday night at Calvin Falwell Field.

Playing in front of 3,862 fans on a Fireworks Night at City Stadium, the Hillcats lit up the scoreboard, as they cranked out 10 runs on 13 hits, all of which came in the first six innings. Nellie Rodriguez tied his career high with five RBIs, driving in his first run with a double in the first to tie the game.

After Bradley Zimmer scored on an error to break a 1-1 tie, Monsalve notched his first two RBIs of the night with a one-out single to pad the lead, 4-1.Monsalve drove in his final run in the third by knocking in Zimmer, who had doubled earlier in the frame, giving Lynchburg a 5-1 lead at the time.

Coming into the contest, Winston-Salem was just 1-for-16 in the series with runners in scoring position. Winston-Salem had a better night with a 6-for-16 performance Saturday, but the Dash left the bases loaded on three separate occasions and stranded 13 men total.

Winston-Salem scored one in the first and another run in the fourth to make it 5-2. Omar Narvaez and Jake Peter each logged two-out singles to earn the RBIs. However, the Dash left the bases loaded in each of those stanzas.

Lynchburg filled the bases in the bottom of the fourth when Luigi Rodriguez singled with two outs and Zimmer and Clint Frazier were each hit by pitches.Nellie Rodriguez drove a ball over the left-field fence to break the game open, 9-2. It represented the first Hillcats grand slam since Robby Hefflinger hit one on June 24, 2013.

Ivan Castillo tallied the final Lynchburg run of the night when he singled and came around to score on a two-out double by Frazier in the fifth. Six of the Hillcats’ nine RBIs came with two outs Saturday.

With the Hillcats leading 10-2, Winston-Salem finally cashed in some baserunners and cut the margin down to 10-8.  In the top of the seventh, the Dash loaded the bases again and saw Narvaez and Nolan Earley each bring home a run on back-to-back singles. Later, T.J. Williams and Adam Engel both drew bases-loaded walks to make it 10-6. A two-RBI single by Peter, his second hit of the inning, drove in a pair, but the Dash comeback came up two runs short.

Nellie Rodriguez’s eight home runs are tied for third in the league, trailing only Bradley Zimmer and Luigi Rodriguez’s nine…Combined, Zimmer and the Rodriguezes have 26 home runs, which is more than five teams in Carolina League…The Hillcats scored double-digit runs for the fifth time this season…Nellie Rodriguez posted five RBIs for the third time in his career, and he increased his league-leading total to 43 for the season…Alex Monsalve’s three RBIs were a season high, and his four hits marked the sixth time in his career he achieved that feat…Seven different Hillcats had a hit in the contest…Michael Peoples (4-3) held Winston-Salem to two runs in five innings for the win, and Justin Brantley earned his second save by recording the final seven outs and striking out three…

Lynchburg goes for its first four-game sweep of the season Sunday at 2 p.m. D.J. Brown (3-2, 3.95) will start for the Hillcats against Robinson Leyer (1-5, 5.19). It’s Bark in the Park Night presented by the Humane Society and Oldies 103.9 FM. Fans can tune in to the action on ESPN Virginia 93.3 FM and 1320 AM as well as beginning at 1:40 p.m. for the Hillcats On-Deck Show.

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