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Simmons gives Hillcats a boost
Braves shortstop homers in Game 1 of Mills Cup Finals
01/22/2013 12:54 PM ET
Andrelton Simmons is 4-for-13 with two homers in three games for Lynchburg.
Andrelton Simmons is 4-for-13 with two homers in three games for Lynchburg. (Danny Wild/MLB.com )
In the first game of the Mills Cup Finals, the Lynchburg Hillcats got a strong night from starting pitcher Michael Lee -- and a little bit of extra help on offense.

On a rehab assignment for the Braves, Andrelton Simmons homered and scored twice in support of Lee, who struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings, as the Hillcats posted a series-opening 3-1 victory over Winston-Salem.

Simmons is 4-for-13 with a pair of homers in three games with Lynchburg. The Braves shortstop spent all of last season with the Hillcats and said he relished the opportunity to join the team's bid for a championship while rehabbing a broken hand.

"I'm just trying to see old friends again, get to play with them, help them out and win a championship, hopefully even get a ring myself," the 23-year-old said.

Simmons batted .293 with Double-A Mississippi before earning a promotion to the big leagues, where he's hitting .296 in 33 games. He said he's been told he'll rejoin the Braves after playing one more game with Lynchburg.

"I'm especially feeling better the last couple days, more comfortable holding the bat, putting a good swing on it," Simmons added.

Lee (1-0) kept the Dash in check, yielding only two hits and a walk. The 25-year-old right-hander went 3-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 55 innings during the regular season, then turned in probably his best outing of the year in the opener of the best-of-5 Championship Series.

"I was just throwing everything for strikes, mixing it up, keeping them guessing," he said. "You obviously want to come out and set a tone for Game 1 and get the team excited, so, yeah, that [start] felt great.

"Definitely some of the best stuff I've had this year. And being able to throw all of them for strikes in any count, it was nice to have success doing that."

Braves' No. 10 prospect Edward Salcedo went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored for the Hillcats. Braeden Schlehuber and Tommy La Stella had the other RBIs.

Closer Juan Jaime earned his second postseason save, walking out one and striking out two in a scoreless ninth.

Based on his brief introduction to his former team, Simmons said he thought the Hillcats had a good chance of bringing home the Mills Cup for the second time in four years.

"The energy they have is pretty cool, I feed off of it. I get excited, too," he said. "When I'm at the plate or playing the field, I feel like a part of the team right now."

Courtney Hawkins, the White Sox's No. 2 prospect, drove in Winston-Salem's only run with an eighth-inning single. Dash starter Stephen McCray (0-1) gave up two runs on six hits over five innings, walking four and fanning four.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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