Trio of homers lifts Hillcats past Keys in opener
Lynchburg (4-1, 36-36) has now won four games in a row while the Keys (1-4, 30-44) fall to 3-19 in the month of June.
The Keys took control early in the game, as Robbie Thorburn and Sean Miller singled to begin the ballgame. A JC Escarra single loaded the bases for Ryan Ripken, who smacked a two-run single. A wild pitch allowed Escarra to score as the Keys took a 3-0 lead over the Hillcats in the top of the first inning.
The Hillcats punched right back. Steven Kwan and Tyler Friis drew walks to lead off the frame. After a fielder’s choice allowed Oscar González to reach base, Nolan Jones doubled home Friis to cut the deficit to 3-1. Mitch Reeves grounded out to shortstop to score González, and Jodd Carter crushed a two-run homer to give the Hillcats a 4-3 lead as the first inning came to a close.
Frederick tied the game in the third after Zach Jarrett reached base on an error by first baseman Reeves and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Ripken.
In the bottom of the third inning, the power display by Lynchburg continued. González singled his way aboard, and Jones hit a two-run homer of his own, his sixth of the year, to give the ‘Cats a 6-4 advantage.
Lynchburg piled on in the fourth. Mike Rivera got on board with a leadoff walk. A sacrifice bunt by Luke Wakamatsu moved Rivera to second base, and walks by Kwan and Friis loaded the bases for Lynchburg. González singled home Rivera and Jones walked a run in to give the Hillcats an 8-4 lead after four.
Frederick tacked on a run in the sixth, when Ripken smashed a solo homer to cut the deficit to 8-5.
In the seventh, Lynchburg got a leadoff walk from Jones, and Reeves grooved a fly ball to deep left field for his second homer of the season, increasing the Hillcats advantage to 10-5.
Lynchburg wasn’t done there. In the eighth, Jones got on base with a single. An RBI double by Reeves scored Jones to put the Hillcats up 11-5, a lead they would hold in the ninth.
Jones, Reeves, and Carter each homered in the contest while Jones and Reeves each collected four RBI in the victory.
Cody Morris (Win, 1-0) earned the win in his first Carolina League start, giving up five runs (four earned) in 5.1 innings of work. Anderson Polanco fired 2.1 scoreless innings of relief and Yapson Gómez slammed the door with a perfect ninth.
Blaine Knight (Loss, 0-4) was tagged for eight earned runs across 3.1 innings. Luis Pérez gave up a pair of runs in three frames, and Diógenes Almengo allowed a run in 1.2 innings.
The Hillcats will continue their series against Frederick on Tuesday. The Keys will send left-hander DL Hall (2-3, 4.03) to the mound in the second game of the series. The Hillcats will counter with a left-hander of their own in Kirk McCarty (0-1, 5.40). First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.
Max Gun and Anders Jorstad will be on the air at 6:20 p.m. with the Hillcats pre-game show on TuneIn Radio and the Radio434 App.
Homestand highlights include Kids Eat Free Tuesday, Winning Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, Fantastic Friday, Sparking Saturday, and Sandlot Sunday. Friday’s and Saturday’s games will include postgame fireworks shows presented by Kona Ice and Central Virginia Sports Commission, respectively.
For tickets or more information, visit lynchburg-hillcats.com, call 434-528-1144, or visit the City Stadium box office.