The Carolina League season is rapidly winding down for the Lynchburg Hillcats, with just seven games remaining on their regular season schedule. Their ticket to postseason baseball in September was punched with a first half Northern Division crown, but they are sitting atop the league again with a 37-26 record and a one-game lead over the Potomac Nationals after breaking a tie in the standings with a walk-off win on Sunday. Earlier in the week, they had completed a sweep over Wilmington before dropping the first two games of their three-game set with the P-Nats.
The Hillcats will take their final road trip of the regular season this week, heading to Myrtle Beach for three games with the Pelicans beginning Tuesday before returning home for four straight against the Salem Red Sox. The playoffs are scheduled to begin on September 7.
In other Hillcats chatter:
Tyler Krieger’s memorable first professional season continued on Monday as the Lynchburg second baseman was named the Carolina League’s Player of the Week for games played August 15 through 21.
Krieger’s impressive debut continues to garner attention as he was honored with his first professional player of the week award and became the second consecutive Hillcats position player to earn the honor. First baseman Bobby Bradley was joined by pitcher Luis Lugo in a clean sweep of the weekly player and pitcher awards last week.
The Lynchburg Hillcats have charged back into the top spot in the Carolina League’s Northern Division as the Potomac Nationals have fallen apart.
The Hillcats wrapped up play on Sunday with a 33-24 record in the second half of the season and are tied with the P-Nats, who had dropped seven straight games and nine of their last ten before winning Sunday. The Hillcats have already secured a trip to the postseason with their first half divisional crown, but are going for the clean sweep. The club went 4-3 over the last seven days, with a pair of rainouts last Monday and Wednesday while the club visited Frederick. They played a pair of doubleheaders with the Keys instead, splitting both days, before taking the first two games over the weekend from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The Pelicans won on Sunday, scoring two in the ninth to tie it and one more in the tenth to walk off.
In other Hillcats chatter:
The Lynchburg Hillcats continued their fight for the second half crown in the Carolina League’s Northern Division, but ended the day on Saturday four games in back of first place Potomac. The Hillcats have already secured a playoff berth with their first half title, but remain in the hunt for home field advantage in the High-A postseason.
The Hillcats finished last weekend on a down note, dropping three straight in a four-game set to the rival Salem Cubs. After a day off on Monday, they took two of three from the Nationals to cut into that deficit in the division, winning the games on Tuesday (2-1) and Thursday (3-2). Returning home for three against Winston-Salem, the Dash won 10-2 on Friday and won on Saturday 7-5 on a two-run home run in the tenth inning.
Lynchburg will wrap up their series with Winston-Salem at 4:00 PM on Sunday before hitting the road for seven straight with Frederick (four games) and Myrtle Beach (three). After that road trip, they will play ten of their final 13 regular season games at Calvin Falwell Field.
In other chatter from Lynchburg:
Tyler Krieger, a 22-year-old second baseman who grew up in Duluth, was born in Orange County, California, but moved to Georgia at the age of five. He still maintains ties with family back in California, and spent some summers out there playing baseball before he went on to college.
Originally drafted by Seattle in the 35th round of the 2012 draft, he chose to attend Clemson and was their starting shortstop for his freshman and most of his sophomore year before suffering a right shoulder injury.
“They treated me well in my time there [Clemson],” says Krieger. “I learned a lot, grew as a person, and I’ll always be following them just because of what they have done for me.”
The Lynchburg Hillcats may have already clinched a playoff berth with their strong first half, but it hasn’t stopped them from playing hard in pursuit of the second half crown as well. A 12-10 win on Saturday helped the club keep pace with the Potomac Nationals for the top spot in the Carolina League’s Northern Division, as both teams currently reside at 19-9 in the second half. The Hillcats have moved back into that top spot by winning ten of their last eleven games.
Last weekend, they swept the Wilmington Blue Rocks in four straight on the road to finish their road trip at 8-1 with one rainout. They returned home to host the Carolina Mudcats and won 3-0 on Thursday before splitting a doubleheader with a 15-1 win and a 10-3 loss. They won another slugfest on Saturday, 12-10. They will finish their series with Carolina on Sunday before hosting Wilmington for three, then will return to the road at Winston-Salem.
In other Hillcats chatter:
The Lynchburg Hillcats have had problems with the weather all season long, so Saturday night’s game ending due to fog should be no major surprise. The team had four games postponed in May and two more in June due to weather issues and Saturday’s game against the Carolina Mudcats was delayed three hours before it started, only to be cut short at seven innings.
The Hillcats have bounced back nicely after being swept last weekend at home against the Potomac Nationals. They took to the road for a seven-game road trip and started it out by taking two of three from Wilmington. They closed the month of June with a win over Carolina and took the games on both Friday and Saturday from the Mudcats to secure the series win, with one more to play on Sunday night.
The Lake County Captains wrapped up the first half of the Midwest League season last weekend with a 40-30 record, but a third place showing in the Eastern Division, falling a game and a half short of the first half division crown and a half-game short of locking up a playoff spot in the Wild Card chase.
The club took a break during the week for the Midwest League All-Star Game, which was attended by four members of the Captains roster. Play resumed on Thursday, with Lake County hosting the Great Lakes Loons at Classic Park. They dropped each of the first two games of the series before getting a well-pitched 1-0 shutout on Saturday night and a 6-3 win in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.
The Captains (2-2) will head out to South Bend to take on the Cubs for four straight, with that series starting on Monday night.
In other notes in the Captains log:
The Midwest League held its All-Star Game on Tuesday, and like their fellow minor league mates from High-A Lynchburg, the Class-A Lake County Captains played big roles in the Eastern Division’s 11-10 victory over the Western Division.
The Captains had four members of their team on the Eastern Division squad, including starters in catcher Francisco Mejia and second baseman Tyler Krieger. Willi Castro was a bench option for the team and Tom Pannone was ready in the bullpen awaiting his turn on the diamond.
The Western Division jumped out to a big 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before the Eastern Division scored their first run in the second inning. It was a Captain who set the stage.
With a 3-1 loss to the South Bend Cubs on Sunday, the Lake County Captains saw their chance of locking up a playoff berth slip through their hands. The Cubs clinched the final playoff spot from the Eastern Division, while the Captains dropped to third in the division to close out the first half. The Captains lost a 1-0 lead in the sixth when they gave up three runs to the Cubs, who held on for the win.
The Captains finished the first half with a very strong 40-30 record, but went 10-8 to close out the first half in June. The team will take a three-day break for the All-Star festivities, as four Lake County players will take part in the Midwest League All-Star Game on Tuesday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with two of those members starting the contest for the Eastern Division.
The second half of the season resumes on Thursday night, when the Captains return to Classic Park for a 7:00 PM first pitch against the Great Lakes Loons.
In other Captains notes:
Powered by four late runs against the Great Lakes Loons, the Lake County Captains avoided the series sweep on Sunday with a 4-3 walk-off victory from Classic Park in Eastlake, Ohio.
The Captains went 4-2 on the week after sweeping the Lansing Lugnuts in their three-game series from Tuesday through Thursday. All three games were won in dramatic fashion. In fact, all six games played this week by Lake County were decided late, as both of their losses came down to the wire. Their loss on Friday was a reversal of fortune after their sweep of the Lugnuts, as the Loons scored four in the ninth to win 7-4. On Saturday, the Captains allowed two four-run innings, but their comeback fell short despite a five-run seventh inning.
The win on Sunday, coupled with two straight losses by the South Bend Cubs, have the Captains just a half-game out of first place in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division. The first half crown could come down to the wire, as Lake County heads on the road for three in Bowling Green starting Monday before four games in South Bend before the All-Star break.
In other news and notes in the Captains’ log:
The Midwest League announced on Tuesday the representatives for the mid-season Midwest League All-Star Classic on June 21 at Perfect Game Field in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The list of players included four members of the Lake County Captains.
The Indians Class-A affiliate will send three position players and one pitcher to the Eastern Division squad, including their middle infield tandem, a starting pitcher, and his battery mate. Shortstop Willi Castro, second baseman Tyler Krieger, catcher Francisco Mejia, and pitcher Tom Pannone will be the Captains honorees in the 52nd annual midseason exhibition.