With the Potomac Nationals losing earlier in the day, the stage was set for Lynchburg to take ahold of the Northern Division lead in the Carolina League. Instead, they would drop a 4-2 decision to Wilmington, moving the Blue Rocks into a tie with the Hillcats, with both teams being a half-game out of first place.
The Blue Rocks jumped on Lynchburg starter Jarrett Miller in the top of the second to take a 3-0 lead. With one out, Cam Gallagher singled to left field. Jared Schulehuber then struck out for the second out of the inning, but Miller could not close the deal. He gave up singles to Logan Davis and Terrance Gore to load the bases. Jack Lopez then cleared them with his 19th double of the season, a shot into right field that Blake Brown could not make a play on.
Lynchburg would get one back in the bottom half of the inning. Kevin Ahrens and Blake Brown led off with walks, and one out later Joseph Odom would walk as well to load the bases. David Nick flied out to left field driving Ahrens home, but the Hillcats could not do any further damage.
The two teams then traded single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Wilmington’s Bubba Starling hit a solo home run in the top of the seventh, his ninth of the year, to restore the three run lead. In the bottom half of the eighth, Will Skinner took a pitch deep to center field for his tenth home run of the year.
Kyle Bartsch would come on in the bottom of the ninth to attempt to close out the game, and that is exactly what he did. The 1-2-3 inning earned him his second save of the season, and made a winner of Luis Santos (3-2). Miller took the loss and is now even at 7-7 on the season.
The Wilmington win creates quite the log jam at the top of the standings. With Potomac losing in 16 innings earlier in the day, both Wilmington and Lynchburg find themselves a half-game out and Frederick is just four out, despite getting hammered 12-2 earlier in the afternoon. With Potomac off on Thursday, Lynchburg and Wilmington will close out their series, and one of these teams will end tomorrow night tied for first place.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA