September 10, 2016 Lynchburg Hillcats

I hate to keep hitting the same team over and over again, but due to the AAA play-offs going longer than other levels, the Clippers are going to be nearly all of the games from this point on. With that in mind, we’ll focus on the Lynchburg Hillcats for the fourth day in a row.

Continuing on directly from yesterday’s 3-1 win in 2016 over the Potomac Nationals that allowed the Hillcats to move to the second round, on this date they face the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the finals. This team featured quite a few players who would make it to the big leagues with teams other than the Indians and one of them, Thomas Pannone, made the start.

Pannone walked one in the first, but was aided by another non-Indians big leaguer when Francisco Mejia picked him off first. In the second, the Hillcats broke through first with three straight singles from Yu Chang, Connor Marabell and Yonathan Mendoza. That rally was ended prematurely as Marabell was caught stealing third, but they added another single run in the third when Mejia singled, stole second and came home on a Dorssys Paulino single.

Pannone allowed doubles in the second and fourth, but kept the Pelicans from dipping their beaks into the ocean to grab some tasty fish. In the sixth, he wouldn’t be so lucky. Donnie Dewees doubled to start the inning before three straight singles. With the bases loaded and one run in, Andrew Ely flew out to left. While one more scored on the play to tie the game, Paulino earned an assist when he nabbed Ian Rice at second. The play allowed the runner on first to reach second, but Jared Robinson came in for relief and struck out the next batter to end the inning with the game still tied.

Robinson walked two after an error to load the bases in the seventh, but managed to keep the Pelicans from scoring. He gave up one more hit in the eighth, but struck out two. His 2.1 scoreless innings while stranding five runners was the most clutch performance of this game.

Still tied in the ninth, Mark Budzinski must have seen the potential of extra innings as he went to long reliever Justin Garcia. He struck out three in a scoreless ninth to send the game into those extras. When the Hillcats went 1-2-3 to start the 10th, it moved them to 17 consecutive batters retired following a Mejia single in the fifth. Garcia allowed two more runners in the 10th, but no runs to continue the game into the 11th.

Anthony Santanader finally ended the extremely long consecutive out streak by the Pelicans in the 11th with a one out homer that gave the Hillcats their first lead since the sixth. However, Jon Fitzsimmons replaced Garcia looking for the save and came up short. After walking the lead-off hitter and allowing a sac bunt, the runner scored on a single to center. Marabell caught the hitter out trying for a double, but the game was tied yet again.

In the 12th, the Hillcats had their first rally since the third. Chang singled to start the inning, then Marabell walked. Mendoza attempted to move up both runners with a sac bunt, but Jesse Hodges misplayed it and allowed Chang to score from second. While a double play ended the inning, the Hillcats had the lead yet again. This time, they would keep it as Fitzsimmons took out the Pelicans 1-2-3 to end the game.

Considering how hard the Hillcats had to work to pull this one out, the ultimate result of the series isn’t all that surprising. They went on to lose the next day 8-3, then two days later 7-0 and finally 5-3 as the Pelicans won three in a row to take the series and the 2016 Carolina League championship.

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