Wakamatsu’s three-run triple propels Lynchburg Hillcats past Dash in finale
With two outs and the bases loaded in the third inning, Luke Wakamatsu ripped a three-run triple down the right field line, helping the Lynchburg Hillcats to a 7-3 win over Winston-Salem, taking the rubber game Thursday at City Stadium.
Lynchburg (12-8) won their third consecutive series, beating the Dash (11-10) in Winston-Salem’s only trip to City Stadium this season.
Wakamatsu’s triple snapped a 1-for-21 at the plate, as he registered his first game-winning hit of the season.
The Dash opened the scoring with a 1-0 lead in the top half of the third. Mitch Roman led off the inning with a single to right field, and then he advanced to third on back-to-back flyouts. With two away, Blake Rutherford came through with a single up the middle, accounting for the first earned run of the season given up by Hillcats starter Justin Garza.
Garza went 4.1 innings, giving up five hits and three runs. He walked one and struck out four in the no-decision. The right-hander opened the season without allowing an earned run through 18.1 innings, before Rutherford’s RBI single snapped that streak.
The Hillcats responded right away in their half of the third. Erlin Cerda led off the inning with a walk and Mitch Longo and Conner Capel each followed with singles to load the bases.
Li-Jen Chu came through with a single to score Cerda and keep the bases packed. Emmanuel Tapia followed with an RBI groundout to give the Hillcats a 2-1 lead, and then Jodd Carter walked to reload the bases.
That’s when Wakamatsu came through with his bases-clearing triple to blow the game open at 6-1 against Dash pitcher Luis Martinez (Loss, 0-1), who was making his first start of the season. He surrendered six earned runs on six hits in five innings.
The six-run third inning was most runs that the Hillcats had scored in an inning this season.
The Dash trimmed the lead in the fifth. Mitch Roman singled with one out and then Luis Basabe followed with a two-run homer to right field to cut the deficit to 6-3.
Lynchburg would pad the lead one final time in the sixth. Carter led off the frame against Winston-Salem reliever Blake Hickman, and took the righty deep to left field for his second home run of the season, to push the lead to 7-3.
Ben Krauth (Win, 1-0) and Kieran Lovegrove teamed up to work the final 4.2 innings. The Lynchburg bullpen duo combined for ten strikeouts and two walks, without allowing a hit. Nine of the final ten Dash outs were recorded via the strikeout.
Longo and Capel each extended their hitting streaks to 11 consecutive games. Hillcats pitchers recorded 14 strikeouts on Thursday, matching a season high.
The Hillcats continue their homestand on Friday night, when they welcome the Potomac Nationals to City Stadium for a three-game series. The first 1,000 fans in the ballpark on Saturday will receive a 2018 Hillcats team photo. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m., with Potomac right-hander Sterling Sharp (1-2, 4.66) facing off with Lynchburg righty Jake Paulson (2-1, 2.20).
Max Gun and Matt Present will be on the air at 6:20 p.m. on TuneIn Radio and the Radio434 app.
For Tickets and more information visit Lynchburg-hillcats.com, call 434-528-1144, or visit the City Stadium box office.