August 9, 2017 Lynchburg Hillcats

Decades before Major League adopted the seven inning double header rule, the minor leagues had already been shortening twin bills and, on this date in 2017, the Hillcats managed a sweep of such a set.

The Hillcats and Mudcats had been rained out on August 8th, forcing the double header on the ninth. Cody Ponce started for Carolina against Lynchburg’s Triston McKenzie in the first game and both made it through two scoreless innings with just one hit allowed. Lynchburg would jump ahead in the third when Jodd Carter lead off the inning with a single, but was still on first after two outs. Willi Castro then singled him to third and both runners advanced on a wild pitch for the first run of the game. Castro then scored when Andrew Calica reached on an error, but Calica was caught stealing after to end the inning.

Sicnarf Loopstok3
Loopstok works out behind the plate during a 2019 Indians minor league spring training game in Goodyear, AZ. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

In the fourth, it was more two out lightning for the Hillcats as Sicnarf Loopstok hit a solo shot followed by a Ka’ai Tom double, Jodd Carter single and Daniel Salters bomb. A walk, single and wild pitch against McKenzie the cost Lynchburg their only run allowed in the bottom half.

With a five run lead and only seven innings scheduled, things could have been about wrapped up, but it got a little crazy in the sixth. Connor Marabell and Loopstok singled ahead of a Tom walk to load the bases with none out. Carter then flew out to right for the first out. Marabell attempted to score on the play, but a Monte Harrison assist caught him out at the plate. At the same time, the slowfooted Loopstok was attempting to take third, but was caught between the bases and tagged out heading back to second for a triple play.

Ben Krauth came in to relieve for the Hillcats in the bottom half and Kieran Lovegrove finished out the ninth, neither pitcher allowing a baserunner. Lynchburg did add one more run in the ninth thanks to a walk and two singles.

In the second game, Marcos Diplan took on Nick Pasquale. This was a much tighter played game and both pitchers were perfect through the first three inning. In the fourth, the Hillcats got all their scoring out of the way with a Sam Haggerty triple, Tom walk and Loopstok homer.

Jodd Carter7
Carter takes a lead off second during a 2015 AZL Indians game against Cincinnati. – Joseph Coblitz, IBI

An inning later, Pasquale showed weakness for the first time as consecutive singles lead into a hit batter. After a sac fly, a wild pitch brought home a second run before Pasquale got back into control and ended the inning with the lead. Billy Strode came into the sixth and struggled a bit, but was saved by Argenis Angulo. Angulo stayed on for the seventh and closed out the Hillcats’ win. The Hillcats would go on to win the third game of the series the next day 5-0 giving them the sweep of the series as well as the double header.

Willi Castro set the pace with three hits in game one, but went hitless in game two. Loopstok had three hits between the two games as well and also knocked in three runs and scored a pair. Hillcats pitchers allowed just eight hits and three runs while striking out 20 across 14 innings. McKenzie lead them in runs allowed (1 in 5 IP) and strike outs (8) while Pasquale allowed just two hits in his five innings.


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