Kingsport now holds a disproportionate 4-14 record in home games at Hunter Wright Stadium. And, with a 10-22 cumulative mark in the Appalachian League, the K-Mets are one of three New York Mets minor-league affiliates mired in last place.
First-year K-Mets manager Mike DiFelice seems determined not to let the nightly setbacks affect his team’s mind-set.
“We’ve got a lot of games left to play and the thing we don’t want here is to have our guys lay down,” he said after Sunday’s loss. “This is, for a lot of them, this will be the end of their career. For a lot of them, it’s an opportunity to show what they can do. We want them to continue to come out here and play hard baseball.”
The ability to play situational baseball dictated the outcome of this contest.
After Elizabethton plated a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning to tie the game at 3, Kingsport had the next solid chance to score in the bottom of the eighth. The K-Mets put their first two men on base, and DiFelice inserted the speedier R.J. Harris as the lead runner. John Semel set up to bunt on his first two pitches — both balls. He swung on the next offering and hit into a double play.
Harris reached third, but Twins reliever Matthew Tone tallied an inning-ending strikeout.
Elizabethton loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but Kingsport reliever Travis Babin induced a pair of fielder’s choice forceouts to stifle the threat.
The Twins (25-8) finally came through in the bottom of the 11th. Elizabethton loaded the bags with no outs on two singles that sandwiched a sacrifice bunt by Reggie Williams, who reached on a throwing error to first base.
Josmil Pinto singled home the go-ahead run, and Paul-Michael Klingsberg rifled a two-run double down the first-base line to all but seal the victory.
Tone and Winston Marquez (2-0) combined for five innings of scoreless relief to end the game. Marquez was making his second appearance since cracking a bone in his glove hand in early July.
Kingsport reliever Bobby Gagg (0-1) gave up his first runs as a K-Met in five outings. Starter Yohan Almonte lasted into the sixth inning before he tired and allowed the tying runs.
Richard Lucas had two hits to highlight an eight- hit night for Kingsport, but a collective 1-for-15 effort with runners in scoring position pushed the K-Mets 14½ games back in the West Division.
“It’s a battle every night,” Elizabethton manager Ray Smith said, adding, “There’s going to be adversity. We’re not going to be like this all year. ... How you battle back from it, that’s part of the game as well.
“That’s part of the developmental process, learning how to play under stress.”
EXTRA BASES: Triple-A Buffalo in the International League and Double-A Binghamton are the other last-place Mets farm teams. ... Dozier had three hits and scored twice out of the leadoff spot. Pinto, the cleanup man, went 4-for-5. ... DiFelice, who usually coaches third base, let hitting coach Ryan Ellis handle that duty instead.