In Kinston, North Carolina, Down East used shut-down pitching and turned three double plays to limit Lynchburg’s offensive opportunities and handed the Hillcats a 5-2 loss Wednesday at Grainger Stadium.
Lynchburg (43-45), which has dropped four straight to start its nine-game road trip, batted in just one run.
After failing to score on four hits in the first three frames, the Hillcats cashed in on back-to-back hits in the fourth inning. Oscar Gonzalez knocked a leadoff single to left field, and Will Benson (2 for 4) followed with a double to put runners in scoring position for Gavin Collins.
Collins, who earlier hit into a double play, grounded out, but gave Gonzalez enough time to score and moved Benson to third.
Mitch Reeves reached on a Down East fielding error next, and Benson scored on the play to cut the Wood Ducks’ lead to 3-2. That’s as close as the Hillcats got, however.
Down East (62-29) struck early with two runs in the first on a groundout and double and stretched the lead to 3-0 in the third on Curtis Terry’s RBI single.
The Wood Ducks answered Lynchburg’s two runs with two of their own in the fifth to make the score 5-2.
Terry led the Wood Ducks by going 3 for 4 at the plate with two RBIs. Franklin Rollin also went 3 for 4. Down East had 12 hits, 10 of which came against Lynchburg starter Evan Mitchell (2-1), who took the loss.
Mitchell was responsible for all five runs (all earned), walked two and struck out two in 4 2/3 innings.
Tim Brennan (1-0) earned the win in his first Class A-Advanced appearance for Down East after tossing five innings of six-hit ball. He allowed two runs (one earned), struck out one and didn’t walk a batter.
Brennan and relievers Josh Advocate and Joe Kuzia, who earned his 11th save, combined to give up eight hits. They struck out six batters and didn’t issue a walk.
Lynchburg’s final two hits came from Tyler Freeman (1 for 4) in the sixth and Collins, who doubled with two outs in the ninth.
Both runners were stranded.
The Hillcats also grounded into double plays in the second, third and fourth innings.
Lynchburg and Down East will play Game 2 of their three-game series at 7 p.m. today at Grainger Stadium.