Quality Work from Sheffield, Power on Display, and More in Hillcats Chatter
Bob Toth | On 21, May 2016
After a tough week that saw Lynchburg drop three straight in a series in Salem and the opener of a series against Carolina, the Hillcats have returned to their winning ways.
Since the unpleasant four-game skid, they have won six of their last seven, including wins in each of the final three games against the Mudcats (capped by an extra inning win on Monday) and in a doubleheader sweep over Salem on Wednesday (after Tuesday’s game against the minor league Red Sox was rained out). They dropped the finale with Salem Thursday before winning again on Friday against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
The Hillcats resume their four-game series against the Pelicans on Saturday at 7:05 PM. When their road trip concludes Monday night, Lynchburg will return home for a seven-game homestand to close out the month, beginning first with three against Wilmington before hosting Salem for four.
In other Hillcats chatter:
Lynchburg heads into action on Saturday leading the Carolina League with 34 home runs. Twenty-four of that total have come in road games.
A three-run ninth inning gave the Hillcats a 5-3 win on Friday in the series opener with Myrtle Beach, the Chicago Cubs’ High-A affiliate.
Trailing 3-0 after five innings, Lynchburg slowly chipped away against the Pelicans. They loaded the bases on three straight walks in the sixth and got a sacrifice fly from Paul Hendrix for their first run. Mark Mathias homered the following inning to make it 3-2.
In the ninth, four straight singles led to the deciding runs against James Farris, who entered the game with seven saves in as many opportunities this season for Myrtle Beach. David Armendariz, Sicnarf Loopstok, and Mathias each singled to load the bases. Greg Allen singled to right to score a pair to give the Hillcats the lead and Claudio Bautista hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-3.
Mathias hit his first home run in Friday’s win, but extra base hits have been no rarity for the Lynchburg second baseman. Ten of his first 20 hits of his High-A career were doubles. He has eleven of them on the season to go with that home run to account for a good portion of his 29 hits this season.
He also delivered the Hillcats’ first walk-off win of the season on Wednesday, when his tenth inning single to left scored Armendariz in a 6-5 win in game one of the doubleheader against Salem.
MERRYWEATHER AN AWARD WINNER
Julian Merryweather was named the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week last week after allowing just one run on nine hits over 12 2/3 innings in a pair of wins. He took a no-decision in a two-inning outing on Thursday, allowing two runs on three hits.
For the year, Merryweather is 6-1 with a 1.01 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in his third season in the Indians farm system.
SHEFFIELD WITH BACK-TO-BACK QUALITY STARTS
Left-hander Justus Sheffield has logged a pair of quality starts in each of his last two outings.
On May 11 against Salem, he allowed one earned run on six hits with a walk and seven strikeouts over six innings. On Monday, he did not allow an earned run over six and two-thirds innings, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out five.
Sheffield was a first round pick by the Indians in the 2014 draft.
CHANG SLUGGING AWAY
Yu-Cheng Chang helped the Hillcats to a win over the Mudcats on Sunday with a solo home run in the seventh inning off of a videoboard in left field, breaking a 4-4 tie as Lynchburg would hold on to a 5-4 win over Carolina.
He homered again later in the week and ranks third on the club with five home runs and third among regular Hillcats with a .272 batting average and .476 slugging percentage. His 30 RBI trail only Bobby Bradley’s 38 and his 70 total bases are tops on the club.
MINOR LEAGUERS ON THE MOVE
A slew of roster moves affected the Hillcats on Thursday.
Reliever Trevor Frank was activated from the disabled list and replaced there by outfielder Dorssys Paulino, retroactive to May 17. Reliever Antonio Romero was transferred down from Double-A Akron and right-hander Cole Sulser was promoted to the RubberDucks roster.
On Friday, the Indians announced that right-handed pitcher Jared Robinson was being transferred to Lynchburg from Lake County. In a corresponding move, catcher Juan De La Cruz was moved to the future roster of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Robinson jumped into his first game possible and threw four scoreless innings of relief, allowing just three hits while striking out each of the first four men he faced on the night.
Photo: Lathan Goumas/The News and Advance