Elih Villanueva, in his first start at hitter friendly Clipper Magazine Stadium, fired five no-hit innings on Sunday afternoon leading the Lancaster Barnstormers to an 8-0 victory over the Sugar Land Skeeters in the rubber game of a three-game series Sunday afternoon.
Villanueva (1-1) walked three and struck out six over his five innings of work only allowing two balls, both routine flyouts, to leave the infield. Coming off surgery that sidelined him for all of the 2016, Villanueva was lifted by manager Ross Peeples heading into the sixth.
The bullpen wasn’t quite as effective, yielding three hits and four walks over the next four innings, but the quartet of one left-hander and three righties kept the Skeeters from reaching the scoreboard.
Sugar Land’s best opportunity came against R.J. Hively in the sixth. Jose Ortiz clubbed a single off the right field wall to start the frame but was erased on Josh Prince’s 6-4-3 double play grounder. Lance Zawadzki and Jeremy Barfield extended the inning on walks, and Andy Wilkins singled to load the bases. Hively kept the shutout intact, inducing a force play grounder out of Joe Benson to end the inning.
Lancaster’s offense got started early. K.C. Hobson launched a two-out solo homer to right in the first inning off Kyle Drabek (0-2), but it was in the second that the ‘Stormers grabbed control of the game. Blake Gailen got the uprising started with a walk and went to second on a Lastings Milledge single into left. Garrett Weber also walked to load the bases. Kevin Ahrens brought home one with a weak grounder past the mound. Tyler Clark picked up two more with a single slapped up the middle. Clark stole second and eventually scored when Caleb Gindl lined a base hit into center.
The Barnstormers tacked on two more runs, one on a homer by Ahrens, in the third and closed out the scoring on a seventh inning sac fly by Gailen.
Bridgeport comes to Lancaster on Monday evening to start a seven-game, home-and-home series with the Barnstormers. The first four will be played at Clipper Magazine Stadium. Lancaster will send Jarrett Leverett to the hill for the series opener on Monday. Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube Channel , beginning at 6:15.
NOTES: Hobson’s homer extended his streak to nine; Milledge has hit safely in eight straight games…Gailen moved to within one of Jutt Hileman’s franchise career record in doubles with his 98th…Caleb Gindl had his third straight multi-hit game…Lancaster’s pitching staff reached double figures in strikeouts for the fifth time in 10 games.