But in contrast to Saturday night’s dispiriting implosion, Kingsport fought to the last out. And that made all the difference to K-Mets manager Mike DiFelice.
“I’m proud of my guys. I’m proud of them. They played a nine-inning baseball game,” said DiFelice, whose squad pushed across a run in the ninth inning on an RBI single by Cesar Puello before Michael Moras grounded into a double play to end the nascent rally.
On Saturday, Kingsport obliterated opportunities by rapping into three double plays. But context is everything. Moras’ hard-luck lick in the ninth was a lot more forgivable.
Moras, who had an RBI single in the sixth inning, was trying to make something good happen.
“They battled. That’s part of the learning process,” said DiFelice, whose squad committed three errors — four fewer than the previous night.
“We’re going to make mistakes in this game. But how you go about it after you make mistakes is important,” DiFelice said.
K-Mets starter Gillaume Leduc, who collected Kingsport’s only win of the Appy League season so far, took the loss. Over his 4 2-3 innings, Leduc (1-1) gave up seven runs on seven hits — including a solo homer by Gary Helmick and a triple by Luis Ramirez. Leduc struck out two and walked four.
Kingsport third baseman Joseph Bonfe and leadoff spot hitter Alonzo Harris led the lineup with three hits apiece, including a double. Bonfe, whose double contributed to the ninth-inning rally, got on board in the sixth with a single and eventually scored on a balk called against Jesse Beal. Harris’ double came in the third.
Saturday’s leadoff hitter, R.J. Harris, batted in the cleanup spot behind Bonfe. He plated Harris in the first on a groundout to short. He absorbed a plunk to get on base in the sixth, scoring on Moras’ single.
The “master absorber” of the squad remains Tyler Howe, who soaked up his sixth hit by pitch of the season in the ninth inning. The first baseman, who played his college baseball at Kentucky, has been hit by at least one pitch in four of the K-Mets’ past six games.
DiFelice has noticed. But he also noticed that Howe struck out three times Sunday night.
“I think somebody needs to call up the University of Kentucky. I’m not sure what they’re teaching those guys. Some kind of rumor is that they had to get hit twice during BP to learn how to get hit by pitches,” DiFelice said.
“I’d like him to swing at more of those fastballs inside. But with him, it’s either throw it over the plate or I’m going to wear it. He’s a gamer. It’s hard not to like a guy like that.”
Kingsport heads out on the road for six games, visiting Danville and Burlington. The K-Mets return to Hunter Wright against Greeneville on Sunday, July 5.