Rain has been about the only thing to stop the Lynchburg Hillcats on the road in the second half of the Carolina League season as the club improved to 10-2 away from home since the All-Star break with a lopsided 15-4 victory over the Blue Rocks on Saturday to start a four-game series in Wilmington.
The Hillcats wrapped up last weekend’s four-game series against Salem by alternating wins on Sunday and Monday. After a day off on Tuesday, they continued their road trip against Carolina, but the opener of the series was suspended by rain. Lynchburg claimed the continuation of the suspended game and the originally scheduled game on Thursday before Friday’s finale was washed out.
With their win on Saturday, Lynchburg kept pace with the first place Potomac Nationals, who lead the Carolina League Northern Division by one game.
In other Hillcats chatter:
MAKE IT SEVEN STRAIGHT FOR BRADY
Sean Brady made it seven straight wins since his last loss on May 21 as his Hillcats teammates erupted for 15 runs and 22 hits against the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Saturday night.
The lefty went six innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits with no walks and six strikeouts for the win. He improved to 9-3 on the season and has earned wins in seven of his last nine starts.
MEJIA MAKES HIS STREAK 35 STRAIGHT
Francisco Mejia extended his hitting streak to 35 games this week with his 3-for-5 game (two singles, a homer, two runs scored, one run batted in) for the Hillcats on Saturday.
He was limited to just one other appearance over the week after participating in the Futures Game last weekend, where he was 1-for-3 with a single and a run scored.
SANTANDER HAS A DAY, A WEEK, A MONTH
Outfielder Anthony Santander had a nice little game, as did many of his teammates in the team-record five-homer day for the Hillcats on Saturday. Santander hit a pair and went 2-for-6 while driving in a career-high six runs on the game, including a grand slam. He hit homers from each side of the game in the contest.
Santander has now homered five times in the last ten games and has 13 on the season. His eleventh shot came in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s suspended game on Thursday night.
The 21-year-old’s 12-game hitting streak came to an end with an 0-for-4 on Thursday. He is now hitting .333 (18-for-54) with five homers, five doubles, and 17 RBI in July.
LOVE APPLES OR LAMP CHOPS?
The renaming and rebranding of the Hillcats continued this week as the club announced the six finalists for the club’s new moniker beginning next season.
The list of options including the Derechos, Doves, Lamp Chops, Love Apples, and River Runners, in addition to the Hillcats name staying the same.
“We were not surprised but still extremely proud of the passion and creativity our fans displayed when submitting possible names for the Lynchburg baseball team moving forward,” said Hillcats Team President Chris Jones in a press release on July 12. “We are expecting our fans to show the same amount of passion and enthusiasm in the next step of the process by voting for their favorite name on our team website.”
Voting is open on the Hillcats website here until Tuesday, July 19, at 5:00 PM ET.
Rains drowned out the series finale between the Hillcats and the Mudcats on Friday, creating a bit of a problem for the two clubs as it was the final trip of the season for Lynchburg to Zebulon. The Hillcats will likely host a doubleheader in Lynchburg with the Mudcats later this season. Carolina might be acceptable to the two teams just forgoing the game – the Hillcats have won nine straight games against them.
On Saturday, the Hillcats played musical catchers on their roster as they placed Juan De La Cruz on the seven-day disabled list. The club also transferred Martin Cervenka to Class-A Lake County.
In exchange for the two backstops, the Hillcats received Alex Monsalve from Triple-A Columbus and Sicnarf Loopstok from the Captains.
Left-hander Thomas Pannone was transferred from Lake County to Lynchburg on Thursday and made the “start” in the suspended game against Carolina. Reliever Dominic DeMasi was transferred back to Lake County to make room for Pannone on the roster.
Pannone, who was a Midwest League All-Star this season, was 5-5 with a 3.02 ERA in 17 starts for the Captains prior to his promotion. He was solid in his debut, going five and one-third innings for the win in his High-A debut, allowing one earned run on five hits with a pair of walks and three strikeouts.
The Hillcats placed right-hander Luke Eubank on the seven-day disabled list on Wednesday and regained left-hander David Speer from the Clippers.
Photo: Jay Westcott/The News and Advance