The Lynchburg Hillcats, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, used several big extra base hits to turn a 4-1 deficit into a 12-6 victory on Wednesday afternoon in a road win over the Winston-Salem Dash.
The Dash raced to an early lead with a run in the second off of Hillcats starter Sean Brady. The Lynchburg lefty gave up a leadoff homer to Nick Basto, but evaded further trouble despite a two-out double from Mason Robbins, who would have himself an incredible day at the plate for the Dash.
After the Hillcats wasted Bobby Bradley’s one-out double in the fourth, the Dash attacked the scoreboard against Brady. Winston-Salem drew a walk and got a single before a fielder’s choice groundout erased the lead runner Basto. That was when Robbins stepped up with his second at bat and homered to left. His first shot of the year gave the Dash a 4-1 lead.
It would be their last lead of the day as 14 Hillcats would step into the batter’s box in the next half inning.
Claudio Bautista walked and moved to second on a single from Loopstok. Castillo was hit by a pitch to load the bases and outfield prospect Greg Allen knocked two of them home with a double to left. Yu-Cheng Chang followed with a double of his own to clear the bases and give the Hillcats a 5-4 lead. A walk from Anthony Santander ended Walters’ afternoon, but reliever Manny Martinez fared no better, giving up a three-run homer to Bradley. The eighth man to the plate, Dorssys Paulino, struck out for the first out of the inning, but Taylor Murphy singled to center before Bautista flied out to center for the second out. Loopstok drew a walk and Castillo drove both runners home with his first homer of the season, a three-run shot to make it 11-1. Allen singled before Chang popped up in foul territory, but the ten-run inning on four multi-run extra base hits blew the game wide open.
“We had a lot of good at-bats that inning, working deep in the count,” Bradley was quoted after the game. “[Claudio Bautista] worked that leadoff walk and we just took it from there.”
The Dash would get a run back in the bottom of the fifth after loading the bases with a walk and two singles before a sacrifice fly, but a sacrifice fly from Murphy in the top of the sixth scored Bradley after his one-out double to get the run right back and make it a 12-5 game.
Winston-Salem would get one final run in the eighth with a bit of history to go with it. With two outs against reliever David Speer, the Dash’s left fielder Robbins was 3-for-3 and a triple short of the cycle. Typically the hardest leg of the feat to achieve, he got his triple in his final plate appearance with a shot to center and would score the final run of the afternoon on a single the very next hitter.
He joined teammate Gerson Montilla in hitting cycles already in just the first month of the minor league schedule.
Brady (2-1, 4.43 ERA) got his second win of the season despite allowing five runs on nine hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out three and gave up a pair of homers. Speer pitched two innings out of the pen, allowing his first earned run of the season on four hits with one strikeout to push his season ERA to 0.71. Trevor Frank pitched the ninth, allowing one hit in a scoreless frame to end it.
Allen and Bradley each had three hits on the afternoon. The speedy center fielder scored one and drove in a pair, while Bradley had two doubles, a homer, and three RBI while scoring twice. His fifth inning shot was hit fifth homer of the season and he has now driven in 22 runs in his first 20 games.
“Me and hitting coach Larry Day made a couple adjustments to my swing,” Bradley said. “[I wanted] to get back to [how wide] I was last year versus how I was standing this year. Not trying to hit homers as much but more trying to hit line drives into the off gap, and that has helped a lot. The beginning of this year I was more narrow, standing almost straight up.”
Catcher Loopstok scored three times in five plate appearances and number nine hitter Castillo drove in four runs.
Former Cleveland Indians catcher, coach, and interim manager Joel Skinner is the manager of the Dash, the affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. Hunter Jones, their leadoff hitter and center fielder, was an eleventh round selection by the Indians in the 2010 draft out of high school and is the son of former Major Leaguer, Tracy Jones. He spent three seasons in the Cleveland farm system before his release following the 2012 season.
The Hillcats improved to 16-4 on the year and an incredible 9-0 on the road. The Dash fell to 7-13 with the loss and have lost eight of nine on their home field this season.
Justus Sheffield (2-0, 2.45 ERA) will take the mound for the Hillcats in their series finale with the Dash as they look to complete the sweep at City Stadium. Spencer Adams (2-0, 4.05), Sheffield’s opposition on Opening Day, will oppose for Winston-Salem. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 PM ET on Thursday.
Photo: Lindsay Carico/MiLB.com