Lynchburg Hillcats Down Wilmington Blue Rocks 4-2
For a moment it looked like the Lynchburg Hillcats were going to blow their Carolina League game against the Wilmington Blue Rocks, but the tide turned quickly, and victory was attained, 4-2. The win broke a tie between the two Northern Division foes and moved Lynchburg just a half game back of the Potomac Nationals.
The score was tied until Lynchburg got on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning with two runs. Wilmington starter Glenn Sparkman was cruising through the game, but after he struck out Justin Bloxom he got himself into some trouble. Will Skinner singled to left field and that was followed by Kevin Ahrens 32nd double of the season that scored Skinner. After retiring Tyler Tewell on strikes, Emerson Landoni singled scoring Ahrens. The inning would end on a fly ball to right by David Nick, but Lynchburg had themselves a 2-0 lead.
Lynchburg starter Daniel Watts was in complete control of the game through seven. The big lefty had been struggling since coming from Rome of the South Atlantic League, but not tonight. He was in complete command giving up just four hits in seven innings of work, but things fell apart for him in the eighth, and his defense played a major role in costing him the win.
Daniel Rockett reached first base when Ahrens misplayed the ball. Terrance Gore then laid down a perfect bunt that he was going to be able to beat out for a single, but in a rush to try to get the speedy Gore, the Hillcats first baseman, Levi Hyams, threw wildly, allowing both runners to advance. With both runners in scoring position Jack Lopez hit his 18th double of the season, plating both runners, and tying the game. A sacrifice bunt by Raul Mondesi Jr. moved Lopez to third and Watts’ night was over. A night when he clearly deserved a win ended with him getting a no-decision.
If Wilmington thought they had the Hillcats on the ropes they had another thing coming. Andrew Edwards replaced Glenn Sparkman, and the move did not work out well for the Blue Rocks at all. Emerson Landoni singled, but was forced out at second by Eric Garcia. David Nick was then hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second, and this ended the night for Edwards.
Daniel Stumpf would come into pitch and got Hyams swinging for the second out. However, he could not keep the game tied as Jose Martinez hit a deep fly ball to center field that Bubba Starling could not play and both Garcia and Nick scored to restore the two run lead.
Up 4-2, Lynchburg turned to Alex Wilson to close out the ninth and he delivered. He would strike out two of the three batters he faced to record his 13thsave of the season, and the Hillcats were in sole possession of second place as the night ended. Mauricio Cabrera (1-0) was credited with the win, while Edwards (0-1) took the loss.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBBWA