Carlos Mojica scored on a wild pitch in the top of the 10th inning to lift the Greeneville Astros to a 7-6 Appalachian League victory.
The K-Mets (4-10) are 1-7 on their home turf, not having won at Hunter Wright since opening the season with an 7-5 victory over Johnson City on June 23.
In spite of that fact, the 1,776 fans who turned out Monday appeared exceedingly loyal and enthusiastic.
“We’ve got guys going out there playing a full nine innings of baseball. We haven’t been able to tighten it all up yet,” said Kingsport manager Mike DiFelice.
“I’m proud of these guys coming out every day going about the game the way they need to. Once we get our hitting, defense and pitching on the same page, I think it’ll be a nice summer.”
It already looks like endless summer for Greeneville left fielder J.D. Martinez, who went 4-for-5, including a triple, with two RBIs.
“I think the key is that a lot of guys throw hard here. It’s just picking up and recognizing the pitches early. You’ve got to be ready for them. It’s not like with an aluminum bat, when you can get away with stuff,” said Martinez, whose .346 batting average coming in was second best at Greeneville and sixth best in the Appalachian League.
The Astros (8-6) jumped on Kingsport starter Eduardo Aldama in the first inning for four runs off four hits. The K-Mets responded in the bottom frame, stringing together three hits to cut it to 4-2. Darrell Ceciliani scored on a wild pitch while Joseph Bonfe went home on Jeff Flagg’s single.
The Venezuelan right-hander held Greeneville scoreless in the second, giving Kingsport the opportunity to tie things up. With one out, the K-Mets got consecutive singles by Ryan Mollica, Pedro Zapata and Gered Mochizuki. Mollica scored on Alonzo Harris’ sacrifice fly to right field. Zapata took home on a double steal when Mochizuki bolted for second and slid into the base ahead of the throw from catcher Luis Alvarez.
Greeneville recovered the lead two outs in the fourth inning when J.D. Martinez’s triple off the top of the center-field fence drove in Miguel Arrendell. A bloop single to shallow right-center plated Martinez for the 6-4 advantage.
Kingsport made it a one-run ballgame in the bottom of the fourth when Mochizuki collected his second consecutive infield single of the night, scoring John Semel from third.
In the seventh, Greeneville outfielder Grant Hogue robbed Taylor Freeman of a game-tying RBI when he made a terrific diving catch to snag Freeman’s line drive to what should’ve been the gap in right-center.
Coincidentally, a Greeneville wild pitch in the ninth inning resulted in Kingsport sending the game into extra innings.
One out into the frame, Harris singled and made it to second on a wild pitch by reliever Nathan Pettus. He got to third on Ceciliani’s groundout to Jose Altuve at second and scored on another wild one by Pettus.
Pettus (1-0) picked up his first Appy League win of the season despite blowing the save after K-Mets reliever T.J. Chism (0-1) let Mojica on with a double and ultimately plated him with a wild pitch.
Semel walked in the bottom of the inning, but Astros closer Travis Smink collected his third save of the season when he coaxed Mollica into a fly ball to Martinez in left.
“They swing the bats. They keep it interesting,” said Greeneville manager Rodney Linares. “They keep it interesting down here. One hit here, one hit over there, and it could’ve been a different ballgame.”