Wilmington knocks off Lynchburg in Carolina League playoff opener

lynchburg hillcatsLynchburg’s offense mustered just five hits as Wilmington took a 6-1 win over the Hillcats in the Northern Division Championship Series opener Wednesday night at City Stadium. Michael Peoples tied a career-high with nine strikeouts in the loss.



Wilmington scored in the top of the first inning as the Blue Rocks strung together three base hits to take an early 1-0 lead. Carlos Garcia singled to right to lead off the frame, and Jack Lopez reached on a bunt single to give the Blue Rocks runners at first and second. Both runners advanced on a groundout to first base by Ryan O’Hearn, and Elier Hernandez hit a slow-roller to short to reach on an RBI infield single that put Wilmington up 1-0.



In the top of the sixth, O’Hearn reached on a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Michael Peoples before scoring on a RBI single by Cam Gallagher that put the Blue Rocks up 2-0. Peoples left the game after six innings but turned in yet another quality start. Peoples allowed two runs on seven hits while walking one and tying a career high with nine strikeouts.



Robbie Aviles entered the game for the Hillcats in the seventh and gave up a leadoff single to Logan Moon who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Garcia. Mauricio Ramos singled to plate Garcia from second that gave Wilmington a 3-0 lead.O’Hearn capped off the scoring in the frame with a RBI double, his second two-bagger of the game, to drive in Ramos from first and put Wilmington ahead 4-0.



Wilmington hurler Alec Mills had the Hillcats’ number on Wednesday night. The righty allowed just two hits over six innings while walking three and striking out six. The Hillcats left the tying run in scoring position twice against Mills, and he departed the game with a 2-0 lead. The Blue Rocks plated two more runs in the top of the ninth to pull away 6-0.



In the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs, Mike Papi finally got a hold of a Blue Rocks pitch to send his fifth home run of the season over the right field wall to cut the lead to 6-1 in favor of Wilmington.

AUDIO: Papi solo home run



Michael Peoples earned the loss despite his team-high 12th quality start of the season…Peoples has lost back-to-back starts for the first time since he lost two straight decisions on May 2 and May 7David Speer allowed two runs in the top of the ninth to snap a scoreless innings pitched streak…The two runs were the first runs allowed by Speer since he joined the Hillcats and snapped a 25 1/3 inning streak without an earned run, dating back to his time in Lake County…Mike Papi hit his fifth home run of the season in the bottom of the ninth…Papi entered September with just two home runs on the year but has hit three in seven games in September.



Lynchburg looks to avoid elimination on the road at Frawley Stadium against the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Thursday night at6:35 p.m. Fans can tune in to the action on ESPN Virginia 93.3 FM and 1320 AM as well as www.lynchburg-hillcats.combeginning at 6:10 p.m. for the Hillcats On-Deck Show.


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