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Lynchburg Hillcats Game Notes

September 9, 2009 - Carolina League (CarL) Lynchburg Hillcats

NORTHERN DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: GAME ONE

LYNCHBURG HILLCATS (73-66) vs. WILMINGTON BLUE ROCKS (84-55)

September 9th, 2009 -- 7:05 PM @ Lynchburg City Stadium

LHP Justin Wilson (6-8, 4.50) vs. RHP Eduardo Paulino (10-6, 3.63)

THE HILLCATS: Lynchburg fell 6-5 to Salem on Monday afternoon at City Stadium in the final game of the regular season...The Hillcats lost three out of four to the Red Sox to finish the campaign...Tonight they play game one of the Northern Division Championship Series against Wilmington...This is the first trip to the post-season for the Cats since 2005 and they haven't won a post-season game since 2003...

N.D.C.S.: Tonight is the first game of the best of five Northern Division Championship Series between Lynch burg (45-24, 28-42, 73-66), the first half champions, and Wilmington (38-31, 46-24, 84-55), the second half champs...It is a 2-2-1 format with Lynchburg hosting, meaning games one, two and five (if necessary) will be at City Stadium with games three and four (if necessary) at Frawley Stadium...The Hillcats have been to the NDCS five times in their history and most recently in 2005...They are 4-1 at this stage of the playoffs thus far...That includes victories over Wilmington in 2002 and 2003, the only two times these two teams have previously met in post-season play...This is Lynchburg's 19th trip to the post-season in the Carolina League and the sixth for the Hillcats...Wilmington was in the NDCS last season and got swept 3-0 by Potomac in three one-run games...That was the third straight season the Blue Rocks have lost playing for the Division Championship...The Rocks have now made the playoffs 14 times and this is their eighth trip in the last nine years...They have won four Mills Cup Championships, most recently in 1999...The Cats are batting .239 against the Rocks and have a 4.01 ERA...The Rocks are batting .261 against the Cats and have a 2.41 ERA...In the last four series between these two teams the Blue Rocks pitching staff is posting a 1.63 ERA (22 earned runs in 14 games)...Seven times this season the Cats have scored one run or less against the Rocks and they have been shutout three times...

VS. WILMINGTON: The Hillcats went 5-15 against the Blue Rocks this season, 3-7 at City Stadium and 2-8 at Frawley Stadium...Wilmington was the only team in the Carolina League with a winning record versus the Hillcats this season...Wilmington has the all-time advantage over Lynchburg 177-121 and they are 85-63 at City Stadium...Lynchburg was up 4-3 in the series this year, but the Rocks won 12 out of 13 and the last nine games to close out the season series...Since July 25th, the Blue Crew has gone 33-10 after they started the second half 13-14...

HOPING FOR DEJA VU: In 2002 Lynchburg lost the season series to Wilmington 15-5 and lost game one of the NDCS, before winning the next two games to take the best of three series...This season the Blue Rocks are 15-5 against the Hillcats...The 2002 season was the last time Lynchburg won the Carolina League...

ATTENDANCE TOPPING: The announced crowd of 2,718 on Monday afternoon helped the Hillcats break their attendance mark from a season ago of 162,131...This year's attendance is now up to 164,328, only 86 fans short of topping the all-time record set in 2007...The Cats have drawn more than 148,000 every season since the renovation of City

Stadium was completed in 2004...

HOME WOES: After starting the season 23-7 at Calvin Falwell Field, they went 13-25 to end the regular season...They lost seven of their last nine home contests...

IT'S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT: Lynchburg scored three runs in their first three innings on Monday to jump out to a 3-0 lead...In the last seven games the Hillcats have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 20-4 in the first three innings of play, but have not scored a single run in the last three frames and have allowed 10...

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: In the second half of the season Lynchburg batted 13 points higher than they did in the first half of the season (.259, .246 in the first) to raise their overall batting average to .253...However, after batting .267 with men in scoring position in the first half, they hit just .231 with RISP in the second to lower their season average to .248...

SLIPPING AWAY: Entering the seventh inning on Monday, Lynchburg led 5-1 before allowing five runs in the final three innings...The Hillcats relinquished an advantage of four runs or more in two of the final three games of the season...The six-run lead they blew on Saturday night was the biggest lead they lost this season...In the first half of the season the Cats only lost after leading nine times in 69 games...In the second half they blew a lead 21 times in 70 contests...They also came back to win 23 times in the first half and only rallied to win 14 times in the second part of the campaign...

WONDERFUL WILLIE: LHP Justin Wilson went 3-3 with a 2.20 ERA (14 earned runs in 57 and 1/3 innings) in his final 11 starts of the season to lower his ERA from 6.75 to 4.50...The lefty went through a stretch in which he allowed just four runs over seven starts (1.08 ERA, four earned runs in 33 and 1/3 innings)...At home this season he posted a 6-5 record and a 3.01 ERA, as opposed to his 0-3 record and 6.65 earned run average on the road...

TODAY'S OPPOSING PITCHERS: RHP Eduardo Paulino was signed by the Royals in 2006 out of the Dominican Republic...He made his professional debut with full season Low-A Burlington in 2007 and went 3-2 with a 4.86 ERA in 12 starts...Last year he returned to the Bees and went 5-4 with a 3.68 earned run average in 19 games (17 starts)...This season he has pitched 23 games (19 starts) with Wilmington and has gone 8-6 with a 3.75 ERA...Paulino has made three starts against Lynchburg, going 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA...The right-handers victory over the Hillcats on August 24th was the sixth of seven straight wins and in his last nine starts he is posting a 2.07 ERA...

FIRST TO WORST: Lynchburg went 45-24 en route to their first half Northern Division Championship, the best record in the Carolina League in the opening half...In the second half though, the Hillcats went 28-42, which put them in last place in the division and tied them for the worst record in the league...Frederick in 1997 was the last team to go from first to last, they went two and out in their best of three series...

FOR THE GOOD OF THE TEAM: Over the last 10 games of the season Lynchburg collected 11 sacrifice hits (six sacrifice flies and five bunts)...All six of the sac flies came off the bat of INF Jordy Mercer, who led the team with 14 sac flies and 17 sac hits on the season...He had six sac flies in his last nine games played...The Hillcats had 98 sacrifice hits on the season, second most in the Carolina League...Their 52 sac flies were the most in the circuit...

BATTERED AND BRUISED: The Hillcats were hit by a pitch nine times in the last five games...On the season Lynchburg was hit by a pitch 97 times, the most of any team in the Carolina League...The next closest in the circuit is Winston-Salem with 72...

PLEASE, NO EXTRAS: The Hillcats lost six straight extra-inning games at the end of the season...Lynchburg started the season 6-2 when playing free baseball, before falling in the last six...

FILLING THE CUPBOARD: This season Lynchburg had six different players from six different trades the Pirates made...INF Josh Harrison came from the Cubs, RHP Nate Adcock from the Mariners system, LHP Jeff Locke was moved from the Braves to the Pirates, C Eric Fryer came to the Cats from the Yankees system, OF Lastings Milledge spent a few games with Lynchburg after coming to the Pirates from the Nationals and RHP Michael Dubee was acquired from the White Sox...

THIRTY SOMETHING: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette updated their top 30 prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates system toward the end of the season with significant input from four of the top people in baseball operations...Of those thirty, seven are currently on the Hillcats roster, RHP Bryan Morris (9), LHP Jeff Locke (10), INF Chase d'Arnaud (11), LHP Rudy Owens (14), INF Jordy Mercer (23), UTIL Josh Harrison (26), RHP Nate Adcock (27)...Former Hillcat 3B Pedro Alvarez is still rated as the number one prospect in the system...

CLASS OF '08: The current roster for the Hillcats now features six players selected in the 2008 draft...INF Jordy Mercer was selected in the third round out of Oklahoma State, INF Chase d'Arnaud was a fourth round pick out of Pepperdine, LHP Justin Wilson pitched for the 2008 College World Series Champion Fresno State Bulldogs and was taken in the fifth round by the Pirates, 1B Matt Hague was a ninth rounder out of Oklahoma State and RHP Mike Colla was plucked in the 14th round out of Arizona...UTIL Josh Harrison was an '08 selection for the Cubs, a sixth round pick out of Cincinnati, where he was Co-Big East Player of the year last season...Former Hillcat 3B Pedro Alvarez, was another member of last year's draft class, the second overall pick in the draft spent his college days playing for Vanderbilt...

QUITE THE CATCH: With three games left to play in the regular season Lynchburg added C Tony Sanchez and OF Starling Marte to their roster, both promoted from Low-A West Virginia...The two went a combined 3-for-6 with a double, two RBI and a run scored in their Advanced-A and Hillcats debut on Saturday night...Unfortunately, Marte left the game with an injury and was placed on the Disabled List...Sanchez was the fourth overall pick by the Pirates out of Boston College in this year's draft and was batting .316 with 15 doubles, seven home runs and 46 RBI in 41 games played for the Power...Marte was signed in 2007 out of the Dominican Republic and was hitting .312 with nine doubles, five triples, three homers, 34 RBI, 41 runs scored and 24 steals in 54 games played with the Pirates Low-A affiliate...Sanchez is the third fourth overall pick and the fourth top five overall pick to play for Lynchburg in the last two seasons (Pedro Alvarez, Daniel Moskos and Brad Lincoln)...

LIKE RIDING A BIKE: RHP Ronald Uviedo earned his third save of the season on Sunday night by throwing two and 1/3 innings of scoreless relief...He inherited and stranded the potential tying run on second base in the seventh inning, the first runner he has inherited this season...It was the 31st save of Uviedo's career...Of the right-handers 139 games pitched, 109 of them have been in relief...

GOING GLOBAL: RHP R.J. Rodriguez and RHP Tom Boleska both left the team to play in the Baseball World Cup...Rodriguez, who led the league in saves and was two short of tying the all-time Hillcats mark, is playing for Puerto Rico...Boleska, who had one point this season went 23 and 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run, is pitching for Great Britain...

GETTIN' ON AND GETTIN' IN: INF Chase d'Arnaud went 0-for-4 in the season finale with a walk and a steal...He finished the season with 30 runs scored in his last 30 contests and had a .430 OBP (58-for-135) in those games...He hit in 25 of his last 30 games and batted .331 (40-for-121) over that time...The infielder was also chosen as one of the six representatives of the Pirates in the prestigious Arizona Fall League this off-season...

DRIVING 'EM IN: INF Jordy Mercer went 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored on Monday afternoon...He drove in 22 runs in his last 24 games of the season and brought home a run in eight straight games (12 in those contests) prior to the final game of the campaign...He hit in 21 of his last 24 games and over that time he batted .304 (28-for-92) with six doubles, three homers, 22 RBI, 12 runs scored, seven walks and two stolen bases...He batted .303 (30-for-99) in August after he hit .226 (26-for-115) in July...Mercer led the Hillcats, finished fifth in the Carolina League and is currently second in the farm system with 83 RBI...He also was first in the league with 36 doubles...

RACKING UP THE ACCOLADES: LHP Rudy Owens was named the Most Outstanding Pitcher in the South Atlantic League...The left-hander was also named by the SALLY to the post-season All-Star team...This after the southpaw was named the best pitching prospect in the SAL, with the best change-up and best control by Baseball America in their recent best tools article...He has also earned Pitcher-of-the-Week honors three times (twice in the SAL and once in the Carolina League)...And the starter was a mid-season All-Star selection as well...

LOCKED IN: LHP Jeff Locke tossed six and 2/3 scoreless innings on Sunday night to earn his fifth win of the season and his fourth win for the Hillcats...In his last eight starts the southpaw was 3-0 with a 2.58 ERA (13 earned runs in 45 and 1/3 innings)...In those eight appearances Locke has allowed one run or less six times...His last start was his first outing this season with Lynchburg that he didn't allow a run in...

HITTING FOR AVERAGE: 1B Matt Hague batted .314 (32-for-102) in the month of August and finished the season third in the Carolina League with a .293 clip...

EXTRA WATTAGE: C Kris Watts batted .444 (24-for-54) in the month of April and finshed the season with a .291 average, fourth in the Carolina League...He was named to the Mid-Season All-Star game...

MAC ATTACK: RHP Matt McSwain was named Carolina League Pitcher of-the-Week for the week of August 17th-23rd...It marked the second time this season a Hillcat hurler has garnered the award (LHP Rudy Owens, August 3rd-9th)...The right-hander now led the team with 11 wins and 144 and 1/3 innings...He tied for second in the league in wins, was third in innings pitched and sixth in earned run average (3.43)...McSwain was the Hillcats first 11-game winner since 2002...

RUSTED ROMAK: After returning from the Disabled List on August 11th, OF Jamie Romak batted .190 (19-for-100) with 28 strikeouts in 26 games played...The former Atlanta Braves farmhand has spent parts of three season with Lynchburg and his 36 home runs as a Hillcat sits three homers shy of Josh Bonifay for the most homers in team history...He is also 3rd in team history in doubles with 55 two-baggers...Romak did have four hits in his last four games played (4-for-4-for-12), three of which were doubles...

PUT IN A PICKLE: RHP Harrison Bishop held opposing batters to a .184 batting average with the bases empty this season...With men in scoring position batters hit .373 versus the right-hander...

LOOKING FOR THE REAL THING: In the first three months of the season (31 and 1/3 innings) RHP Mike Colla only allowed three earned runs and was sporting a 0.86 ERA...After that though he had a 7.56 ERA (28 earned runs in 33 and 1/3 innings) the rest of the season to up his overall earned run average to 4.31...

BORN TO RUN: UTIL Jose De Los Santos stole 53 bases this season in 61 attempts (87% success rate)...Last year he stole 28 bags in 48 tries (58%)...He led the team in swipes, was third in the Carolina League and it was the fourth most stolen bases in a season in Hillcats history...His 67 steals in his career for Lynchburg places him third on the all-time list...

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Carolina League Stories from September 9, 2009


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