The Hillcats began their 2019 season on the road versus the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in a four game set. They were able to win the series three games to one including a 14-5 Opening Day blowout. They cranked out seventeen hits in the rout including two home runs by Trenton Brooks and Luke Wakamatsu respectively. The first home stand for Lynchburg welcomed the Salem Sox to Calvin Falwell Field. On April 9, the Cats were on the receiving end of a 14-1 blowout against the Sox giving up a total of fourteen runs on nineteen hits. The last game of the series was another lopsided affair between the two clubs this time favoring Lynchburg in a 10-3 victory. Gavin Collins collects his first homer on the season, a three run shot to put the Cats up 4-1 for the teams fifth win of the 2019 campaign. Starter Adam Scott tossed five innings giving up three earned runs with four strikeouts for his first Carolina League victory.
Next, on the schedule is another four game trip on the road against the Down East Wood Ducks. They go into play with identical records and the Ducks are on a four game win streak entering the set. The Hillcats have been successful thus far offensively, and have been able to score runs with baserunners in scoring position, but at the same time have committed at least one error defensively in each game they have played so far. On the other hand, the Wood Ducks have been hot both offensively and defensively so this will be quite an interesting series to watch for both teams as they both hope to maintain their winning streaks. During Saturday’s game versus the Wood Ducks, Lynchburg were held to a season low three hits as well as a season high three defensive errors in the loss. But, the Hillcats still have won the series despite being shutout in the series finale by a score of 8-0. Lynchburg returns home tonight to begin a three game set with the Potomac Nationals.
Some outstanding performances for the Hillcats include center fielder Steven Kwan who boasts a .467 average in just six games. He has fourteen hits in that span with three doubles, 3 RBI and 8 runs scored. Also, three stolen bases and a slugging percentage of .567 leading the league in total hits, and overall run total. On Lynchburg’s opening day against Myrtle Beach, Kwan registered four hits in six at-bats, scoring three runs and one stolen base which is why he has earned outstanding player of the week in this case.
Pitching wise, Nick Gallagher earns outstanding performer defensively because of how dominant he is for Lynchburg in both relief appearances he has pitched in. He has tossed a combined seven innings between two games, only allowing one hit and ten Ks. Gallagher converted his first save opportunity on April 5th, and did not factor into the decision in his recent appearance on April 10th vs the Salem Red Sox. The 16th round draft pick by the Indians appears to be the top relief pitcher for Cats so far in the early season due to the fact this his strikeout to walk ratio is so good.
Eli Morgan is a right-handed pitcher for the Hillcats selected in the eighth round of the 2017 Draft out of Gonzaga University. It is also worth mentioning that he possessed the best change-up out of any pitcher in his draft class. Morgan is 2-0 thus far early in the 2019 season with eleven total innings pitched and has given up zero runs. His BB-K ratio is an astounding 2:15 and only has allowed three hits in those two games. Opposing hitters have batted a meager .091 against him along with a WHIP of just .045. It is for those reasons why Eli Morgan is being chosen as the player of the week for the Lynchburg Hillcats.