Magic Number is One for Lynchburg and More News in Hillcats Chatter
Bob Toth | On 12, Jun 2016
A tough 2-1 loss to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in a battle of All-Star pitchers at City Stadium in Lynchburg ended the Hillcats’ five-game home winning streak, but kept them in prime position to capture the Carolina League North Division first half crown. Their magic number to clinch dropped to just one as the Potomac Nationals were shut out in both games of their doubleheader on Saturday.
Lynchburg fell to 6-4 in the month, following each loss with a pair of wins, so the odds may be in their favor heading into their series finale against Myrtle Beach on Sunday afternoon. They took the first two games on Thursday and Friday before Saturday’s narrow defeat. Despite the results, the club has already eliminated Wilmington, with both Frederick (31-31) and Potomac (30-30) in second place, eight and a half games behind Lynchburg and just one loss or Hillcats win away from their own elimination.
After Sunday’s contest, the Hillcats will host the Carolina Mudcats for three straight before heading to Frederick for four with the Keys to close out the first half.
In other Hillcats chatter:
The Class-A Advanced All-Star team was announced earlier in the week with six members of the Hillcats selected to represent the Carolina League in the California-Carolina League All-Star Game this season.
Lynchburg narrowly avoided a shutout in Saturday’s 2-1 loss, scoring their lone run in the fourth inning on an RBI-groundout from Chang. They remain the only team in the Carolina League who has not been shut out this season.
They did similar on Tuesday, when their lone run in their 5-1 loss in Salem came in the sixth inning when Bradley scored on a wild pitch after his one-out double to start the mini-rally.
BAUTISTA BENEFICIAL AT THE PLATE
Second baseman Claudio Bautista has continued a good stretch at the plate, hitting .333 in June (nine games), starting with a four-game series in Wilmington. He has four two-hit games in that span, a home run, and four RBI while drawing eight walks.
ALLEN WHEELING AROUND THE BASES
Allen continues to show off why the former sixth round pick of the 2014 draft is All-Star worthy. He has hit safely in each of his last four games, including a four-hit, eight-base game on June 9 against Myrtle Beach. He has added two more stolen bases this week, giving him 31 this season in 33 attempts (94% success rate). He is hitting .277 with a .412 on-base percentage this season, with eleven doubles, a triple, three homers, and 18 RBI while working an even 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, with 37 strikeouts and 37 free passes.
One of those home runs came on Thursday, when his leadoff home run to start the game got the Hillcats going on the way to a 9-3 win. His four hits in the game matched a career high.
SIX STRAIGHT FOR SLUGGER BRADLEY
Bradley has hit in six straight games for the Hillcats and in ten of his last eleven. He has hit in all but one June game so far this month. His batting average has climbed from .220 at the end of May to .247 at the end of play on Saturday, which included a pair of singles in the Lynchburg loss to the Pelicans.
On Monday, he hit a grand slam in the first inning as the Hillcats scored eight runs in the frame on the way to a 13-5 victory over the Salem Red Sox. Friday night, his first inning home run, number 15 on the season, pushed the Hillcats out to a 2-0 lead on their way to a 7-1 victory over Myrtle Beach.
The Hillcats are now 25-11 in games that they notch at least one home run.
PASQUALE WINS HIS SECOND
A strong five-inning effort for 25-year-old right-hander Nick Pasquale on Friday night helped guide the Hillcats to victory. He gave Lynchburg five scoreless innings on the mound, allowing two hits and a pair of walks while striking out four. His innings total was his second-highest pitched this season. Working as both a starter and reliever thus far this season, Pasquale has earned a 2.03 ERA since joining the Hillcats staff on May 3.
TOUGH LOSS FOR ALL-STAR MERRYWEATHER
Lynchburg fell 2-1 on Saturday night against Myrtle Beach, with Merryweather the victim of little run support as he faced off against a fellow Carolina League All-Star in Zach Hedges. In his tenth start of the season, Merryweather (7-2, 0.98 ERA) went six and one-third innings and allowed just two runs (one earned) on four hits and struck out eight. It was his third outing this season with at least eight strikeouts and his third different start with no walks allowed.
Both of his losses in 2016 have been decided by unearned runs.
Outfielder Taylor Murphy returned to the Hillcats roster on Friday morning, along with left-handed pitcher Anderson Polanco. In corresponding roster moves, outfielder Bobby Ison was transferred back to Lake County and catcher Juan De La Cruz was reassigned to Mahoning Valley.
Photo: Joy R. Absalon/MiLB.com