The starting rotation for the Hillcats took home yet another victory on Monday afternoon, this one off of the field, when right-hander Brock Hartson was awarded the Carolina League’s Pitcher of the Week honor for a solid start for Lynchburg on Thursday, August 10.
Making his second start after missing a week on the 7-day disabled list, Hartson took home his second win of the month of August with six shutout innings at Zebulon against the Carolina Mudcats as the Hillcats would go on to win 5-0 in the contest. Pitching one day after his 24th birthday, he allowed just three hits in his quality start, walking three and striking out five to earn his sixth win of the season for Lynchburg.
He faced the minimum in each of the first two innings, striking out three in the process. A leadoff single in the bottom of the third led to no further damage as the base runner was held at first base with three outs in the air to end the inning.
Ka’ai Tom gave Hartson some room to work with in the fourth, when his two-out RBI-single to second scored Andrew Calica, who had started the inning off with his 17th double of the year.
The right-hander would get himself into some trouble in the home half of the frame as three men would reach base, but none would advance past second. A leadoff single was erased on a caught stealing by battery mate Daniel Salters. The three and four hitters each drew walks before Hartson struck out the next batter and got a comebacker to the mound to end the inning, stranding the pair.
The fifth was a little bit less work for Hartson as he retired all three batters in the inning in the air again before his teammates padded his lead. Willi Castro reached on a fielding error at short and moved to second with a one-out walk by Gavin Collins. After Sicnarf Loopstok struck out for the second out, Tom delivered again with a three-run home run to make it a 4-0 game.
Hartson returned for the mound for a final inning in the bottom of the sixth. He gave up a leadoff single to right before a double play ball to short. After walking the number three hitter again, he struck out Brewers prospect Lucas Erceg, a Carolina League Player of the Week two weeks ago himself, swinging to end his outing.
Jared Robinson pitched two scoreless innings in relief and Justin Garcia put two on in the ninth, but worked out of it to close out the victory, the 69th of the season for Lynchburg to just 47 losses.
Through 20 appearances (16 starts) this season, Hartson is 6-4 with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. He has struck out 76 and walked 28 in 111 2/3 innings of work while holding opposing clubs to a .210 batting average.
It was the first weekly honor for Hartson in his three-year professional career. The right-hander was a midseason All-Star for the first time this season for the Hillcats. It is his second season pitching in Lynchburg after joining the club late last season from Class-A Lake County. The Houston, Texas, native was selected by the Indians in the 21st round of the 2015 draft out of the University of Texas-San Antonio and spent 14 games that season at short-season Mahoning Valley.
Hartson’s award marks the fifth time this season that a Hillcats pitcher has been recognized for his weekly effort. Just two weeks earlier, Shao-Ching Chiang was selected as the Pitcher of the Week, just days after throwing a no-hitter. Triston McKenzie (twice) and Shane Bieber have also received Pitcher of the Week awards this season. Left-hander Thomas Pannone, who began the year with the Hillcats before a promotion to Double-A Akron and a trade to the Toronto Blue Jays, was named the league’s Pitcher of the Month in April. Sam Haggerty and Jodd Carter have also taken home the hardware on the position player side of the weekly honors.
He will make his first start since being named the league’s top pitcher for the week on Tuesday night, as the Northern Division’s first place Hillcats (32-19) host the top team in the Southern Division, the Buies Creek Astros (32-18), at 6:30 PM ET from Calvin Falwell Field at City Stadium in Lynchburg.
Photo: Lindsay Carico/MiLB.com