8th inning explosion carries Hillcats to 9-5 win over Potomac
LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET/Hillcats) – Trailing 5-3 in the eighth inning, the Lynchburg Hillcats batted around and scored six runs to sweep the Potomac Nationals, 9-5, in a rain shortened two-game series.
The Hillcats (22-18) have now won eight of their last nine games, and move to within a half a game of Potomac (22-17) for the Carolina League North Division lead.
In the eighth, the Hillcats were helped by a pair of errors by Nationals reliever Jordan Mills (Loss, 0-1), who allowed two runs to score on an errant throw to home plate, tying the game at 5-5. Trenton Brooks then served a single to center field to score Conner Capel to give the Hillcats the lead, before Emmanuel Tapia launched a three-run home run, his third of the season.
It marks the fifth time that the Hillcats have scored six runs in an inning this season, and the ninth time they have batted around. Brooks extended his hitting streak to six straight games, a season high.
Mills did not record an out, allowing four runs (three earned), on three hits, and took his first loss of the season.
Lynchburg stuck first in the first inning when Mitch Longo singled on the first pitch of the frame. Luke Wakamatsu followed with a single down the right field line, to put runners at the corners. Capel followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Hillcats the 1-0 edge.
The P-Nats responded in the top of the second against Hillcats starter Tanner Tully. After yielding singles to Alec Keller and Rhett Wiseman, David Masters took Tully deep for a three-run shot, his second home run of the season, to give his team a 3-1 lead.
Lynchburg got a run back in the fourth when Li-Jen Chu lifted a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Wakamatsu, who led off the inning by working a walk to make it 3-2. Wakamatsu reached base in all four plate appearances on Sunday.
However, the Nationals added to their lead in the fifth. After Tully had set down eight in a row, Blake Perkins doubled to lead off the inning. Carter Kieboom followed with an infield single, and then Ian Sagdol brought a run home on an RBI groundout. Jake Noll widened the margin to 5-2 with a double off the left field wall one batter later.
Tully finished the day going five innings, giving up five earned runs on seven hits, walking two, and striking out a season-high six. He did not factor in the decision.
The Hillcats bullpen was strong behind Tully. Jared Robinson worked two scoreless innings, tossing the sixth and seventh, and then Billy Strode (Win, 2-0), worked around a pair of two out hits in the eighth to pick up the win.
Dalbert Siri stranded two runners in the ninth to preserve the 9-5 victory.
The Hillcats will hit the road Monday to begin an eight-game southern swing, when they will face off with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and the Buies Creek Astros.
Right-hander Eli Morgan will make his Advanced-A debut for the Hillcats, facing off with Pelicans righty Tyson Miller (3-4, 3.58) at 7:05 p.m. Morgan began the season in Single-A Lake County, where he was 2-0, with an ERA of 1.83.