The Lynchburg Hillcats (32-16; .667) started off another series strong with a 6-1 victory by Justus Sheffield over Salem to start this weekend’s four-game set against the Red Sox. It marks four consecutive series opening wins for the Hillcats, after a stretch of three straight series started with losses in the middle of May.
The Hillcats have continued their strong all-around play and remain the league leaders in the Carolina League’s Northern Division. They won their series earlier in the week with Wilmington and split a four-gamer in Myrtle Beach against the Pelicans last weekend. They have won four straight series since being swept in three straight in Salem from May 10 to 12.
Lynchburg will wrap up their series with three more against Salem before hitting the road for three games in Wilmington against the Blue Rocks.
In other Hillcats chatter:
HOME RUN STREAK
The Hillcats took an eight-game homer streak into Friday night’s action against Salem. The streak started the previous Thursday against the Red Sox, but came to an end in a 6-1 victory for Lynchburg over the same Salem club.
Through the first 48 games of the season, Lynchburg is leading the league with 42 home runs. They have gone no more than four games without hitting a home run this season. The Hillcats are also tops in the Carolina League in doubles, runs, RBI, walks, hit by pitches, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage entering play on Friday night.
BRADLEY LEADING THE WAY
Bobby Bradley continues to lead the Carolina League with eleven home runs on the year and 42 RBI. He trails Salem’s Yoan Moncada for the walk lead. His eleventh homer was a two-run blast on Thursday to cap a five-run fifth inning in the Hillcats’ 8-0 win.
GETTING ON BASE CONSISTENTLY
Bradley extended his on-base streak to 20 games after Friday night’s action against the Red Sox. While he has had just eleven hits during those 20 games, he has drawn 21 walks as his approach at the plate has changed drastically in May after a much different April. It was a fifth inning walk in an 0-for-3 performance that extended his streak.
Claudio Bautista’s similar streak came to an end on Friday with an 0-for-4 at the plate against Salem. He had reached base successfully in 18 straight games prior to Friday’s game. He has reached base in all but one game now that he has had an at bat in May and has 17 hits, 13 walks, and 14 RBI in the month.
BRADY GOES SEVEN SCORELESS
Left-hander Sean Brady (3-3) earned his third win of the season by claiming the deciding game of the Hillcats series against the Blue Rocks on Thursday, 8-0. He threw seven shutout innings, matching a season-high for work on the mound, while striking out a career-best eight Wilmington hitters. He issued two walks and allowed five hits on the day.
QUALITY WORK FROM BROWN
Mitch Brown (1-4) took a tough loss on Monday night after giving the Hillcats six quality innings on the mound. He allowed two runs on four hits, walked one, and struck out eight batters.
SHOW OFF THOSE WHEELS
Greg Allen stole three bases against the Wilmington Blue Rocks to take over the second spot in the Carolina League in stolen bases. He entered play on Friday with the third highest total of steals in all of minor league baseball and picked off his 27th in the third inning of Lynchburg’s 6-1 win over Salem on Friday night.
He stole his 100th professional base on Wednesday and also contributed with the bat, hitting a third inning solo home run against Myrtle Beach in a 3-1 loss on Monday.
Julian Merryweather, off to a hot start this season, landed on the disabled list on Monday, retroactive to May 20.
Catcher Juan De La Cruz returned to the Lynchburg roster on Wednesday after being briefly transferred to the Mahoning Valley roster. Left-handed pitcher Matt Whitehouse joined him on the Hillcats after being promoted from Lake County.
Right-hander Justin Garcia was placed on the disabled list the same day and righty Jared Robinson was returned to Lake County after his short stay in Lynchburg.
Photo: Lathan Goumas/The News and Advance