The Sox made a comeback, then broke open a close game to hang an 11-5 decision on the Kingsport Mets at Hunter Wright Stadium.
Bristol rallied from a 4-0 deficit with a five-spot in the fifth inning, then tacked on six more runs in the ninth in what had been a 5-5 ballgame.
Fireworks followed the game, but Brady Shoemaker provided some explosives of his own. The Bristol left fielder homered twice as part of a 5-for-5 performance.
Shoemaker’s first homer, a two-run job, tied the game in the fifth. His second dinger accounted for the game’s final runs and chased Kingsport pitcher Brian Needham, who had thrown well in his first two innings of work but appeared to tire in the ninth.
The go-ahead run scored on a wild pitch. Then Needham (1-1) gave up a string of four straight hits — a single, two doubles and Shoemaker’s second homer — to account for five insurance runs.
“He had to throw a lot of pitches. With the game tied right there, we tried to stretch him for another inning,” Kingsport manager Mike DiFelice explained. “We’ve got a lot of guys that have been throwing a lot of pitches and the bullpen was a little limited today.
“He wanted the ball. Things happen like that.”
Rather than go deeper into the bullpen, DiFelice put catcher Tyler Howe on the mound. Howe struck out both men he faced, but the first batter reached on a third-strike wild pitch.
Howe made nine pitching outings in two seasons playing for the University of Kentucky and had a similar mop-up appearance last year with the Gulf Coast League Mets.
Earlier in the evening, Kingsport enjoyed the rare luxury of an early lead. The K-Mets had allowed the opposition to score first in four of their past five ballgames, but broke that trend with a three-spot in the bottom of the first frame. Howe delivered the key blow, a two-run single. First baseman Jeff Flagg also knocked home a run.
The K-Mets tallied eight hits — all singles — but just one in the final four frames against Bristol relievers Chris Zagyi, Santos Rodriguez (1-0) and Alex Farotto.
One K-Met did receive some good news before the game; third baseman Joseph Bonfe earned a promotion to Brooklyn. Bonfe hit .338 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 17 games with Kingsport.
“That’s what it’s all about,” DiFelice said. “Joe got off to a good start for his career and it’s nice to see him move up. We want to get everybody moving up.
“It’s sad to see him go, but we’re all happy for him to get up and get an opportunity at another level.”
EXTRA BASES: Bonfe’s promotion was part of a flurry of recent roster moves. The K-Mets sent outfielder Carlos Puello and pitcher Luis Rojas to the GCL Mets, and brought in outfielders Kurt Steinhauer and Justin Garber, catcher Jose Torres and third baseman Tyler Vaughn. ... It was a good night for the Kingsport defense, which turned two double plays and got a nice diving catch in the outfield out of Steinhauer. ... The K-Mets resume their series with Bristol tonight. Admission will be free for Monday’s series finale.