From staff reports
For the second straight day, the pitching staff put together a stellar outing, helping the Lynchburg Hillcats to a 3-1 victory over Wilmington on Monday at City Stadium.
Lynchburg starter Juan Hillman and relievers Skylar Arias and Jonathan Teaney allowed just four hits.
Hillman (5-12) went seven innings and gave up one run (earned) on three hits to pick up the win. In the fourth inning, Hillman gave up a one-out single to Tyler Hill (2 for 4) and walked Nick Pratto to set up Dennicher Carrasco’s game-tying hit.
The line-drive single to left scored Hill and knotted things at 1-1, but that’s all the damage the Lynchburg pitching staff allowed.
Hillman issued one other walk in his outing and allowed a leadoff single an inning later, but he picked off the runner. The Blue Rocks (78-54) had just one more hit the rest of the night.
Teaney picked up his fourth save after striking out the final batter of the ninth inning. The right-hander followed Arias — who threw 1 2/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit ball — and worked just the one out when Hillcats manager Jim Pankovits brought him in for the righty-righty matchup.
Steven Kwan was the standout offensively, tallying three of the Hillcats’ 10 hits, one of them going for a double. His sacrifice fly in the seventh inning broke the 1-1 tie and gave Lynchburg (60-68) the lead for good.
Will Benson went 2 for 3 with a double and a sacrifice fly, which made it 3-1 in the eighth.
Connor Smith was responsible for the Hillcats’ first run when he lifted a sacrifice fly to left field in the first inning. Kwan, who singled to lead off the game, scored on the play.
Kris Bubic took the loss in his seven-inning start, giving up two runs (both earned) on eight hits.
The Hillcats’ playoff hopes still are alive — barely — following the win. They sit seven games back of Salem, which leads the Northern Division standings that determine the final postseason qualifier out of the North, with seven games left to play.
A Hillcats loss and Salem win would eliminate the ’Cats from contention for the Carolina League playoffs and end their league-high seven-year streak of making the postseason. They’ve won the second half each of the past four years to make the playoffs.
Lynchburg and Wilmington play Game 2 of their four-game set at 6:30 p.m. today at City Stadium.
The Hillcats play all seven of their remaining games at City Stadium.