WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Winston-Salem jumped out to a three-run lead, but the Lynchburg Hillcats rallied to squeeze out a 5-4 victory at BB&T Ballpark on Sunday afternoon.
Trailing 4-3, Lynchburg (30-26) made its comeback in the top of the eighth inning against Dash reliever Braulio Ortiz (0-5). Jose Peraza led off the frame with a triple down the right field line, and Kyle Wren walked to set up runners at the corners. With Will Skinner batting, Ortiz's wild pitch allowed Peraza to score and moved Wren up to second base. Following Skinner's strikeout, Levi Hyams singled to left-center field, bringing Wren home for a 5-4 Hillcats lead.
Winston-Salem (22-33) had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth against Lynchburg closer Alex Wilson. With two outs and no one on base, Tim Anderson singled up the middle and advanced to third on Joey DeMichele's base hit. With the potential tying run just 90 feet away, Courtney Hawkins grounded out to third base to end the game, giving the Hillcats the seventh victory in their last eight games.
The Dash took the early lead against Lynchburg starter Wes Parsons (4-2). During the bottom of the second inning, Keon Barnum hit a leadoff double and scored on Justin Jirschele's ground-rule double to right field. Hillcats' right fielder David Nick flipped over the three-foot wall while racing to catch Jirschele's fly ball, forcing him to come out of the game with an injury.
Later in the inning, Zach Voight hit his first Winston-Salem homer, a two-run shot to left field that gave the Dash a 3-0 advantage.
Lynchburg took advantage of some defensive miscues in the fourth inning to get on the board against Dash starter Frank Montas. Consecutive errors by Anderson and Barnum allowed Peraza and Wren to reach base. That led to a sacrifice fly by Hyams, cutting the Hillcats' deficit to 3-1.
With Wren at third base and Josh Elander at bat for Lynchburg, the speedy runner attempted to steal home. Umpire Cody Oakes ruled that Montas rushed his delivery to the plate, resulting in a balk that awarded Wren the base to make it a 3-2 game.
The Hillcats tied the game in the sixth. Peraza hit his first of two triples in the contest before scoring on Wren's RBI groundout, leveling the contest at 3-3.
The Dash immediately answered in the bottom-half of the inning. Hawkins was hit by a pitch and moved to third on Jason Coats' double to left field. Barnum was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Grant Buckner's line drive to third base tipped off the glove of Hyams, scoring Hawkins for a 4-3 Winston-Salem lead before Lynchburg came back.
Montas ended the day with a no-decision, allowing three runs (one earned) and five hits in seven innings while striking out six.
It was a rare Sunday loss for the Dash, who fall to 6-3 on the first day of the week. Winston-Salem has been eliminated from playoff contention in the first-half of the Carolina League season. Lynchburg has now won five-of-seven meetings between the clubs this season.
The Dash will attempt to earn a split in the four-game series against Lynchburg Monday night. Winston-Salem will send right-hander Myles Jaye (1-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound against Hillcats' righty Lucas Sims (5-3, 4.23 ERA). Sims is the top prospect in the Atlanta Braves' organization, according to Baseball America. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. For tickets, visit wsdash.com or call (336) 714-2287.