Skinner hits two homers, but Salem still falls

salem red soxThe Hillcats offense came solely off the bat of Will Skinner tonight. He hit two home runs and drove in four runs for Lynchburg as the club fell 5-4 to the Carolina Mudcats. Skinner now has 16 homers on the season and 40 RBI, both lead the current Hillcats club since Robby Hefflinger was called up to Double-A Mississippi last week.

Skinner was not even scheduled to be in the lineup until half way through a 31-minute delay prior to the first pitch. The tarp was on the field in anticipation of rain, and before the game began, manager Luis Salazar made a switch. He moved Matt Lipka from centerfield to designated hitter, and Skinner replaced the original designated hitter, Levi Hyams, and started in center field. Skinner responded well homering on the second pitch he saw in the first inning giving the Hillcats a 1-0 lead.

Jarett Miller protected that one-run lead until the fifth inning. An error by third baseman Kyle Kubitza allowed the leadoff batter reach. Miller then loaded the bases sandwiching a strikeout with a pair of walks. Tyler Naquin tied the game with an RBI-groundout to second base. Francisco Lindor then drove in two with a triple and scored on a double from Tony Wolters. All four runs were unearned due the error at the start of the frame.

The Hillcats (3-8, 39-41), or Skinner, answered in the sixth. Elmer Reyes and Emerson Landoni singled to begin the inning. Two batters later Skinner hit another homer to tie the score at 4-4.

The Mudcats (4-8, 26-56) rallied again in the bottom of the sixth loading the bases against Miller. With Greg Ross ready in the bullpen, Miller was left in the game to face Naquin with two outs and the bases full. Naquin popped out to second base to end the inning.

Ross entered in the seventh and pitched a scoreless inning. Nate Hyatt came on for the eighth inning with the game still tied. Paddy Matera singled to lead off the inning. Joey Wendle then pinch ran for Matera representing the go ahead run. A sacrifice bunt, walk, and a fly out left runners at first and second with two outs for Wolters. The Carolina catcher came through with a soft line drive to left field scoring Wendle and putting the Mudcats up 5-4.

Jeff Johnson pitched the ninth allowing just one hit. Kubitza doubled with two outs, but went stranded as David Rohm struck out to end the game. Johnson recorded his eighth save of the season.

Rob Nixon (2-3) earned the win after completing a scoreless eighth inning for Carolina. Hyatt (1-2) swallowed the loss for Lynchburg.

The Hillcats wrapped up their road trip tonight and look ahead to a seven-game in eight days homestand beginningtomorrow night at City Stadium. It’s the fourth of July, which means it will be the biggest fireworks show of the season after the final out.

First pitch tomorrow is scheduled for 7:05pm. The gates will open up a half hour early at 5:30pm. LHP Blaine Sims (0-4, 8.50) is scheduled to start for the Hillcats against RHP Brady Wager (0-3, 6.41) for the visiting Frederick Keys. If you can’t make it to game, tune in to Erik Wilson and Jake Levy with the call on 97.9 FM The Planet and online

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