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Cardinals deal K-Mets first loss of season

Jeff Birchfield • Jun 25, 2018 at 1:02 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Johnson City applied the lessons from Sunday’s batting practice to hand Kingsport its first loss of the Appalachian League season.

Brian Sanchez had five RBIs, including a go-ahead three-run home run in the seventh inning, to lift the Cardinals to a 12-9 victory Sunday night at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.

“Our hitting coach, Cody Gabella, talked to our guys about taking a different approach at the plate,” Johnson City manager Robert Espinoza said. “The guys received the information, applied the information, and this is the result you get.”

Kingsport (5-1) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning, but Johnson City (2-4) answered with one run in the bottom frame and three more in the fourth to take a 4-2 advantage.

The K-Mets responded with a five-run top of the fifth, including a three-run home run by Phil Capra. But the Cards tied the game in the bottom half with three runs before Kingsport scored on a sacrifice fly in the sixth for an 8-7 lead.

Sanchez had his big swing of the bat to swing the contest in the Cardinals’ favor in the seventh. Leandro Cedeno followed with a solo home run as the Cards tacked on two more runs for a 12-8 lead in the eighth. True to the form the K-Mets have shown early in the season, Capra hit a sacrifice fly to score Anthony Dirocie for a run in the ninth.

Kingsport outhit Johnson City 13-8, including a 5-4 advantage in extra-base hits.

“There is no quit in this ballclub,” Kingsport manager Sean Ratliff said. “We’ve been swinging the bats great since Game 1 and it showed again tonight with 13 hits. We did a good job and stayed in this game until the very end. We just got ourselves in trouble giving up a lot of walks and we ran out of outs.”


Dirocie was 3-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored to lead Kingsport. Mark Vientos ended 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs, and Kenny Hernandez and Beracierta each had two hits. Capra finished with a team-best four RBIs.

Matt Cleveland started and gave up four runs over 3 2/3 innings. Eric Villanueva went the next 1 1/3 innings before handing the ball to Daison Acosta. After giving up the three-run homer, Acosta (0-1) got the loss and the blown save. Andrew Ryan threw the final inning on a night when K-Mets pitchers gave up 12 walks.


Johnson City leadoff batter Jonatan Machado went 3-for-5 with an RBI and Zach Jackson was 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs. Third baseman Nolan Gorman scored three runs, and Cedeno, Carlos Soto and Sanchez scored two runs apiece.

The five runs driven in by Sanchez included a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning and another in the fifth inning.

Oneiver Diaz threw the first five innings, giving up nine hits and seven runs, all earned. Tommy Parsons (1-0) pitched the next two innings, giving up one run and was credited with the win. Kyle Leahy closed with the final two innings for his second save.


Kingsport’s skipper was pleased by how his team performed in the first two series of the season.

“Without question, we feel good where we’re at right now,” Ratliff said. “We’re playing good defense and we’re pitching well. Tonight was a blip on the radar. Defensively, we’ve been good and offensively, we’ve been really, really strong.

“We’ve played well the first two series and if we keep this up, we’ll be in a good place.”

Johnson City’s manager also came away with some positives after his team battled back to take the final game of the series.

“These guys are showing that they have a lot of character and they’re going to play hard,” Espinoza said. “They did at Bluefield (where the Cardinals’ two losses were by one run each) and they showed it again tonight.”


The K-Mets head to Greeneville today and Tuesday to take on the Reds. They then welcome the Cardinals to Hunter Wright Stadium for a three-game series that starts Thursday.

Johnson City goes to Elizabethton for a two-game series today and Tuesday.

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