Wild eighth costs Hillcats

The Hillcats committed two errors in the eighth inning leading to two unearned runs and fell 6-5 to the Wilmington Blue Rocks. The game-winning play started with a safety squeeze to plate the tying run and ended with the bunter getting thrown out at home plate from left field. The Hillcats lost their third straight game for the first time since they dropped eight in a row from May 29 – June 5.

The ‘Cats fell behind first for the fifth straight night. Wilmington scored with a Matt Fields RBI single in the bottom of the first inning. The Blue Rocks added another in the second inning. Angel Franco doubled in Kevin David.  It was 2-0 Wilmington.

Lynchburg started their scoring in the third. Mycal Jones single home Matt Weaver. Edward Salcedo homered in the fourth to tie the game up at 2-2. It was his eighth of the season.

The sixth saw the Hillcats take their first lead. Jones singled to start the frame. After he stole second, back-to-back groundouts drove him home. Lynchburg led 3-2.

Weaver extended the Hillcats lead in the seventh with a solo shot, his eighth of the season as well. Braeden Schlehuber, Salcedo, and Weaver are all now tied for the active team lead in long balls. Lynchburg added another run in the inning with three more hits. Hillcats led 5-2.

The 5-2 lead was taken into the eighth when the Blue Rocks waged a wild comeback. Back-to-back one-out doubles for Roman Hernadez and David plated one run. Then, Geulin Beltre singled in David to make it 5-4. Lynchburg brought LHP Chasen Shreve in from the bullpen as LHP Cole McCurry exited. Shreve quickly induced what could have been an inning-ending double play ball to third. However, Salcedo committed his 21st error of the season, which left runners at first and third base with one out. Whit Merrifield came to the plate next. He put down a safety squeeze bunt up the first base line, which drove in the tying run despite a great effort by Shreve to get the out at home. With no one covering third, shortstop Nick Ahmed raced Angel Franco from second to third base. Catcher Chad Comer tried to lead the throw to Ahmed but missed him and the ball rolled into left field. Franco came around to score the go-ahead run. Meanwhile, the play continued. Merrifield was motoring around the bases, and was waved home by manager Vance Wilson. Merrifield would get thrown out at home 7-6-2 for out number two in the inning but the damage was done. The next batter struck out and the inning was over, Blue Rocks up 6-5

RHP Sam Runion tossed a scoreless ninth and earned his second save for Wilmington. RHP Nick Rogers (2-2) earned the win with an inning and one-third of work. He allowed two hits and walked two but let up no runs. Shreve (4-3) took the loss allowing one unearned run on one hit in two-thirds of an inning.

The Hillcats are now 4-4 in the second half after losing their last three.

Game two of the series is set for tomorrow night at 7:05pm. LHP Dimasther Delgado (5-2) will start for Lynchburg against RHP Chase Boruff (1-4) for Wilmington. Listen live to all the action starting with Hillcats On-Deck Show powered by Honda/Suzuki of Lynchburg at 6:40pm on 105.5 FM KD Country and online at lynchburg-hillcats.com

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