Lucas Sims, the top prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization, flashed his plus stuff tonight as he no-hit the Wilmington Blue Rocks over seven innings. Alex Wilson completed the no-no and the Hillcats won 5-1.
The game was scoreless through four innings. A pair of first round draft picks were matching each other every step of the way. Sean Manaea blinked first allowing a run in the fifth to the Hillcats (5-2, 39-38). David Nick drew a one out walk. He advanced to second base on a groundout to second base. Tyler Tewell then singled to right field and Nick scored to put the 'Cats up 1-0. Tewell tried to advance to second base on the throw home, but was thrown out by the catcher to end the inning.
The Blue Rocks (4-4, 37-39) tied the score in the bottom of the fifth. Sims walked Jack Lopez with one out and then he advanced to second base on a passed ball. The next batter Daniel Rockett reached on an error by shortstop Daniel Castro. With runners at first and third and one out, Terrance Gore hit a one-hopper to the mound. Sims fielded the ball and immediately threw to second base to start a double play, but Gore beat the relay to first and Lopez scored from third. The game was tied 1-1.
Sims found his curveball, ranked as the best in the Braves farm system, in the sixth inning as he retired the side in order striking out the last two on four consecutive breaking balls.
"I'm really glad [my curveball] showed up tonight. I missed him like an old friend," Sims said. "I felt like I hadn't seen [my curveball] in a while.
The Hillcats regained the lead in the seventh. Manaea induced a groundout from Castro, but then Jose Martinez and Kevin Ahrens singled back-to-back. Zeb Sneed entered in relief for Manaea. A wild pitch allowed the runners to move to second and third and Sneed was instructed to intentionally walk Nick to load the bases. Emerson Landoni then drew a walk, forcing the go-ahead run across home plate. A sac fly and two more singles drove in three additional runs. The Hillcats took a 5-1 lead.
Lynchburg stuck with Sims in the seventh. He walked Cam Gallagher with one out, but struck out the next two batters to finish another scoreless inning. He threw 101 pitches, allowed one unearned run, walked four, and struck out a season-high six. Wilson relieved him in the eighth and walked a pair, but got out of the inning with no harm done. The bottom of the ninth was perfect. Wilson struck out three in two scoreless frames to finished the no-no.
Sims (6-5) earned his first win since May 22. The no-hitter was the first for the Hillcats since Aaron Northcraft no-hit the Salem Red Sox in a seven-inning game on June 22, 2012 in Lynchburg.
The Hillcats will go for the sweep in Wilmington tomorrow night at 7:05pm. Right-hander Cody Scarpetta (1-1, 3.00) will start for the 'Cats against right-hander Glenn Sparkman (3-1, 1.33) for the Blue Rocks. The Hillcats On-Deck Show presented by Amtrak Virginia will go on the air at 6:40pm. Erik Wilson will have the call on 97.9 The Planet.