Hillcats topped up the Red Sox 8-7 on Thursday night at Salem to complete a sweep in the 2009 Mills Cup Championship. Lynchburg wins their sixth Carolina League Championship and their third as the Hillcats! The Cats take their first league crown since 2002.
Lynchburg plated a run in the top of the first to kick-off the evening. Jordy Mercer belted a double off the wall in left-center field to plate Josh Harrison and give the Hillcats a 1-0 lead.
The advantage was short lived though, as the Red Sox answered with three runs in the bottom of the first to take a 3-1 lead. Mike Jones singled home a pair and Tim Federowicz brought in the third run with a sacrifice fly.
The Comeback Cats came right back though in the top of the second inning with a six-run frame that would chase starter Kyle Weiland from the game. Salem aided the Lynchburg effort with two errors, two wild pitches and a walk. Chase d'Arnaud roped a two-run double in the inning and Jamie Romak brought in a pair with a two-bagger as well and th Hilclats had a 7-3 lead.
It was the third straight game d'Arnaud had a two-run double and he drove in seven runs in the Mills Cup Championship series and earned the MVP.
In the bottom of the second inning the Red Sox would get starter Jeff Locke out of the game as well with another run in the inning off the southpaw. Anthony Rizzo singled in that run to make it 7-4. Mike Colla got called on out of the bullpen and got out of a bases loaded jam without allowing another run.
In the fourth inning Lynchburg brought in another run with a single by Romak, the third RBI of the evening for the third-year Hillcat. That run pushed the lead back to four at 8-4.
In the bottom of the sixth inning the Red Sox cut the Hillcats lead in half with a pair of runs. Ryan Dent hit his second home run of the series, a two-run shot, to close the gap to 8-6. The Sox would plated another run in the ninth inning, but got no closer and fell 8-7.
Colla (1-0) earned the win by tossing three and 1/3 scoreless innings for Lynchburg (6-2) and Ronald Uviedo earned the save (3). The loss went to Weiland (0-1) for Salem (3-3).
The Hillcats won five straight to close out the playoffs, matching their longest winning streak of the regular season. All five of the victories were of the comeback variety. Lynchburg won all three games against Salem after the Red Sox won all three of their games in the Southern Division Championship Series.
This was the third ever meeting in the Carolina League post-season and their first ever in the Mills Cup.
The Carolina League championship is the sixth for Lynchburg, and their third as the Hillcats. The Cats also won the Mills Cup in 1997 and 2002. Lynchburg also won league titles in 1978, 1983 and 1984.