Triston McKenzie became the first Hillcat to earn Carolina League Pitcher of the Week in 2017, as announced by the league office Monday afternoon.
McKenzie dominated in his lone start of the week, striking out a career-high 14 batters in six innings on May 9 against Carolina. His 14 punchouts included six batters in a row at one point and five in a row at a different juncture. McKenzie's performance, paired with home runs from Ka'ai Tom and MartinCervenka, helped Lynchburg defeat Carolina, 4-1.
After a leadoff walk to begin the game, McKenzie proceeded to strike out the next six batters he faced. McKenzie struck out every Mudcats hitter in the lineup at least once by the end of his outing. He struck out seven batters in his final three innings, including the last five men he faced before leaving after the sixth. Outside of the walk, McKenzie only allowed one other baserunner, a one-out single to Isan Diaz in the fourth.
The right-hander's previous career high for strikeouts was 11, which he accomplished August 5, 2016 against the Great Lakes Loons in the Midwest League. In the past two years, McKenzie has made 21 starts and struck out at least eight batters in nine of them.
McKenzie (3-2) lowered his ERA to 1.95, which ranks third among active pitchers in the Carolina League. The 42nd overall pick of 2015 also ranks third among active pitchers in WHIP (0.99) and fewest baserunners per nine innings ( 8.91). In each of those three categories, one of the two people ahead of him is fellow Hillcat Shao-Ching Chiang . McKenzie's opponents' batting average of .174 is tops for all pitchers still in the Carolina League, and he is second with a 12.25 K/9 IP ratio.
Last year, the Hillcats tied a team record with 10 Carolina League weekly awards, including three consecutive Players of the Week at one point. McKenzie's recognition marks the second weekly award for a Hillcat in 2017 after Sam Haggerty earned Carolina League Player of the Week for the final week of April.
Lynchburg continues its road trip with a four-game series at Winston-Salem Monday at 7 p.m. Shane Bieber (0-0, 1.50) will take the mound against the Dash's Aron McRee (0-5, 4.33). Fans can listen to the game live at www.lynchburg-hillcats.com with coverage beginning at 6:50.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.