LYNCHBURG, Va. (Aug. 8, 2014) - Kevin Ahrens' three-run homer with two down in the eighth inning propelled the Lynchburg Hillcats past Winston-Salem by a score of 4-3 in Friday night's series opener at Calvin Falwell Field.
Winston-Salem (24-24, 54-63) enjoyed a 3-1 lead entering the deciding frame thanks to a Jason Coats three-run homer back in the third inning. Coats is now tied with teammate Courtney Hawkins for second place in the Carolina League with 71 RBIs, two shy of former Myrtle Beach catcher Jorge Alfaro for the top spot.
Coats' dinger held up until the eighth. Sean Hagan began the frame after stranding a two-out single in both the sixth and seventh. Eric Garcia led off with a single, but he was erased on a fielder's choice after a dazzling diving play from second baseman Jake Peter. Justin Bloxom followed with a walk, which prompted Winston-Salem to go to the bullpen once again.
Right-hander Raul Fernandez (1-1) entered with eight and a third innings under his belt with Winston-Salem, and he had not allowed an earned run during that stretch. He whiffed Will Skinner for the second out. However, Ahrens punished a hanging off-speed pitch and launched it over the wall in left field for the go-ahead knock.
In the ninth, Cleuluis Rondon coaxed a walk with one out, but he was thrown out trying to return to first after a Hawkins strikeout against Alex Wilson, who earned his 14th save in as many tries this season.
Winston-Salem dropped its fourth consecutive game, all of which have come on this road trip. The Dash's four-game road skid is the club's longest since last August, while Winston has fallen back to the .500 mark in the second half.
Both starters threw well in no decisions while rain hell from the skies throughout much of the contest. Dash righty Brandon Brennan permitted just one run on four hits in five innings, while Lucas Sims, one of the top prospects in the Braves' farm system, surrendered just the Coats homer over six frames.
This series continues Saturday night at 6:05 from Virginia. Right-hander Tyler Danish (5-2, 2.81 ERA) looks to continue his torrid stretch against Lynchburg lefty Daniel Watts (2-4, 5.40 ERA). Pregame coverage on wsdash.com/broadcast begins at 5:50.
The Dash return home on Tuesday for a quick three-game homestand against these Hillcats. The opener of the series, a 7 p.m. game on Tuesday, features a postgame fireworks show and $1 hot dogs! For tickets, call the Dash at (336) 714-2287 or visit wsdash.com.