Sloppy D costs Lynchburg
The Hillcats couldn’t overcome fives errors in their 5-2 loss to the Carolina Mudcats. Aaron Northcraft went five solid innings allowing one run, but the bullpen couldn’t hold the 2-1 lead he left the game with. It was the third consecutive game that ended in a 5-2 score. The Mudcats lead the four-game series three games to one. The finale will be at 11am tomorrow.
A hot day in Lynchburg had Hillcats’ fans sweating nearly as much as the play on the field. Northcraft started off the day with a walk to Tyler Holt, Tony Wolters followed with a bloop singe to left before a sharp hit ground ball to third baseman Edward Salcedo resulted in a unassisted play at third for the first out. An infield single by Jesus Aguilar loaded the bases before Jake Lowery scorched a ball to Hillcats’ shortstop Nick Ahmed to start the six-four-three double play.
Tim Smith started the bottom of the second inning with a single before being thrown out at second on an Edward Salcedo fielder’s choice. Salcedo stole second and reached third on a throwing error by Mudcats’ catcher Dwight Childs with Chris Garcia at the plate. Garcia slapped a single between third baseman Tyler Cannon and the shortstop Wolters as they were drawl in to score Salcedo.
The Hillcats added to their 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second off a monster blast from Braeden Schlehuber over the left field wall. That’s where the scoring would end for the offense.
It was a quiet third and fourth for each team. In the top of the fifth the first dent in Northcraft’s armor appeared. The second of seven infield singles was dribbled over to Salcedo who didn’t have an oppportunity to make a play. Wolters followed with his own infield single to place runners at first and second with no outs. A walked juiced the bases for Aguilar. After a bit of a battle with Northcraft, Aguilar hit a high fly ball between second baseman Emerson Landoni and right fielder Robby Hefflinger. Landoni made the catch off-balance and delivered a high throw to Schlehuber. Holt scored, but Schlehuber spotter Wolters breaking for third. Salcedo was covering for the Schlehuber throw and Wolters try to avoid the tag but ran out of the base line. The score was cut down to 2-1.
Lefty Ronan Pacheco entered in the sixth and loaded the bases before retiring three straight to avoid losing the lead. However, the high was short lived. Pacheco retook the mound for the top of the seventh. He walked Wolters to start the inning. Carlos Moncrief tried to lay down a bunt, but it went over the head of Garcia at first base, both runners were safe. Another soft dribbler was hit between Ahmed and Salcedo. Ahmed picked up after the ball rolled past a charging Salcedo and fired it to first base but the throw hit Aguilar in the foot. Wolters scored to make it 2-2. Pacheco then struck out Lowery for the first out of the inning. Toole came to the plate following the strikeout and it a hit shot that Salcedo stretched out for. Trying to make a play, Salcedo made an errant throw that pulled second baseman Tommy La Stella off the bag. The error was Salcedo’s second of the day and Moncrief was able to score. Aguilar was now at second, Toole was at first with Cannon at the plate. Cannon ripped a single into left field to score Moncrief and the Hillcats found themselves down 4-2 with one out. Lynchburg would bring in lefty Chasen Shreve to end the inning. He was able to induce a four-six-three double play on the first pitch he threw.
Another insurance run was added by Carolina in the top of the ninth with another lefty on the mound, Matt Chaffee. Aguilar added his third infield single of the day, he moved to second on a wild pitch by Chaffee with Lowery at the plate. Salcedo’s third error of the day, saw Toole make it to first and Aguilar to third. Cannon hit a deep fly ball to center for his second RBI in as many at-bats.
The ninth got very interesting. Hefflinger led the inning off with walk before a bloop single from Schlehuber. Landoni laid down a nearly perfect bunt, but closer Jose Flores made a fantastic throw to beat Landoni by a hair. It would go down as a sac bunt even though Landoni was bunting for a hit. Flores was able to buckle down after the scare and strikeout the next two batters to end the game. For the third straight game the final score would be 5-2.
Reliever Kyle Petter (1-1) earned his first win of the season. He went 2.0 innings, surrendered two hits while walking one and striking out one. The loss was given to lefty Ronan Pacheco (0-3) picked up his first loss as a reliever. He went just 1.1 innings, allowed three runs to score–two earned–on four hits to go along with a pair of walks and strike outs.
The series finale is scheduled for 11:00am tomorrow at Calvin Falwell Field. Lynchburg will send righty Cody Martin (3-2, 3.74) to the mound to take on lefty prospect Mike Rayl (2-3, 3.25). Lynchburg City Stadium will open its gates at 10:00am. If you can’t make it to the ballpark, you can listen live to all the action on 105.5 FM KD Country and online at lynchburg-hillcats.com starting with the Hillcats On-Deck Show coming on the air at 10:50am with Erik Wilson and Mike Viso.