Hillcats Finish First Half In Second Place

From the Hillcats and ABC 13:

SALEM, VA - The Lynchburg Hillcats and Salem Red Sox split another doubleheader Sunday at LewisGale Field inside Salem Memorial Ballpark, marking the fourth split in as many doubleheaders between the two clubs this season.

With the split the Hillcats finished 36-33, six games behind Northern Division champion Potomac in the standings. Potomac and Southern Division champion Myrtle Beach advanced to the postseason. The 'Cats could still make the playoffs by winning the second half championship (if Potomac wins the second half, the 'Cats could finish in second place and make the playoffs).

The Hillcats stormed back to win game one, 6-5, scoring in each of the final four innings for an extra-inning win. The Hillcats bats fell silent in game two, falling 4-1, with the only offense coming on Will Skinner's twelfth home run of the season.

The Hillcats (36-33) struck first in game one thanks to an RBI-single by Kyle Kubitza in the first that extended his RBI streak to seven straight games. The Red Sox (33-37) put up two spots in the second and fourth innings. David Renfroe drove a double down the left field line to plate two in the second and Bryan Johns delivered a two-run single in the fourth to make it 4-1 Red Sox.

Then the Hillcats scoring barrage started. They got a run back in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by David Rohm, made it a one-run game in the sixth on an RBI-groundout by Cory Brownsten, and tied it up on an RBI-triple by Kubitza in the seventh.

Wilson Rivera (5-0) pitched a perfect bottom of the seventh to send it to extras, where Matt Lipka delivered an RBI-single and then an errant throw allowed an insurance run to score on the same play.

That insurance run proved important as the Red Sox got a run back in the bottom of the eighth and had runners at the corners with two away for Renfroe, but Rivera was able to get a groundout to end the game.

Blaine Sims got the start for the Hillcats in game two and gave up a two-run home run to Brandon Jacobs in the first inning. Sims (0-2) allowed just one hit after that, but the offense couldn't make up the slim early deficit.

Skinner made it a one-run game in the third, but the Hillcats had no other answers for William Cuevas (3-6), who pitched six innings of one-run ball.

The Red Sox added two runs in the bottom of the sixth off All-Star reliever Ronan Pacheco. Felix Sanchez fouled off numerous two-strike pitches before doubling down the right field line to plate a run. He later scored on a fielding error by Kubitza. Noe Ramirez got his first save of the season with a 1-2-3 seventh to complete the split.

The Hillcats head into the All-Star Break before beginning the second half of the season in Lynchburg on Friday, June 21 against the Winston-Salem Dash.