Wilmington, DE- Right-hander Jarett Miller turned in possibly the best start of his career tonight as he struck a career-high 12 and walked no one over seven scoreless innings and earned his first win of the season. The Hillcats (14-19) defeated the Wilmington Blue Rocks (15-18) 3-2, as the bullpen narrowly hung on late.
The only trouble Miller (1-3) got into all night was in the fourth inning when he gave up back-to-back two out singles. He had already struck out the first two batters of the inning and he went on to strike out Jack Lopez following the two singles to get out of the jam. Miller struck out the side twice, getting the Blue Rocks in order in the fifth inning as well. He retired the side in order in five of his seven innings, and sat down the final 10 batters he faced. He gave up just three hits total, a season-low, went a season-long seven innings, and earned his first win.
Daniel Castro drove in the game's first run in the fourth inning with a two-out single to right field scoring David Nick. They added another in the fifth when Jose Peraza singled stole second and third, before scoring on a single from Nick. Peraza swiped three bases total on the night, and now leads the Carolina League with 18. Nick finished the night 3-for-4 and is now batting .375 through his first four games with the Hillcats.
Kevin Ahrens gave the 'Cats a much needed 3-0 lead with a solo homer in the eighth. It was his third of the season, which now ties him with Will Skinner for the team lead.
In the bottom of the eighth the Hillcats went to the bullpen and things got dicey. Lefty Eric Pfisterer began the inning, his first appearance since April 25. He walked two right away and left the game. Right-hander Nate Hyatt was brought in next. He walked his first batter to load the bases, and then gave up a two-run double to Raul A. Mondesi. The Blue Rocks had runners at second and third with no outs, down only 3-2.
Hyatt went on to strike out Bubba Starling after the double. He then intentionally walked Hunter Dozier to load the bases. Clean-up hitter Zane Evans came up with the bases loaded and on the first pitch grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. Hyatt stayed in to pitch a scoreless ninth and earned his first save of the season.
The Hillcats now lead the series 2-1 heading into the finale tomorrow afternoon. First pitch Sunday is set for 1:35pm at Frawley Stadium. The Hillcats will throw right-hander Wes Parsons (1-1, 3.71) against lefty Sean Manaea (1-2, 5.12).