Both of our minor league playoff teams have had their chances, but despite hanging tough, they’re off to a combined 0-3 start, which has ended the Hillcats’ season.
On Wednesday night, Lynchburg carried a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but John Cornely was unable to hold that lead after coming in to finish the seventh inning. He yielded one hit and two walks, but that was enough as the Potomac Nationals were able to tie it up. That game continued to the 14th inning when Potomac got the 3-2 victory. Lynchburg once again had some chances with six extra-inning baserunners, but their pitching made up for that with six strikeouts. On paper, Lynchburg out-pitched Potomac, but 2 hits in the 14th were enough to push the winning run across, spoiling a fabulous start by Greg Ross (2 hits over six innings; ten strikeouts, one walk). Emerson Landoni had 3 hits in five trips, but just didn’t have enough support around him (4 other hits total) to generate consistent threats.
Unfortunately, Thursday was much the same for our Hillcats. They took an early 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning, were tied in the 3rd, re-took the lead in the 4th, were tied in the 6th, but then were walked-off again – this time in the bottom of the ninth, 3-2 once again. Lynchburg garnered 8 hits – one by each of the first eight batters in the order, while Elmer Reyes drove in both Hillcat runs. Ryan Hinson pitched well: 2 earned runs on just 3 hits, though 5 walks into the sixth inning. But Jose Lugo took the loss as he had no margin for error: 1 walk, 3 hits and 7 K’s over the final 3 innings.
Being a best-of-three series, the Nationals move on, and the Hillcats are done for the year. A valiant effort, but the Nationals have been very tough all year.
Myke Jones tweeted last night that it’s rough to “give away” games like that. There were fielding miscues, and near fielding miscues that led to defeat. 3-2 appears to be the score of choice this week, and that was the final here as well at (ironically) Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile. Christian Bethancourt (2-4), Tommy La Stella (2-3, walk), and Edward Salcedo (2-4) led the attack, while Jose Martinez drove in both Mississippi runs.
The Braves held leads of 1-0, and 2-1 before being tied in the 4th and 6th innings. The winner came across in the bottom of the 7th for Mobile (Diamondbacks affiliate) when the Bay Bears executed a squeeze play to force in the run from third. That gave Juan Jaime the loss. Starter Michael Lee went six innings, giving up 2 runs (1 earned, due to a Salcedo throwing error), but just 4 hits and 1 walk. Excellent start – nothing to show for it (you may have heard that theme earlier).
This is a best-of-5 series that continues tonight in Mobile, then moves to Pearl, MS on Saturday.