K-Mets pile up 10 hits against Astros before suffering another tough loss

George Thwaites • Jul 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Winning may have proven elusive for the Kingsport Mets this season, but first baseman Jeff Flagg has learned to appreciate the simple pleasures of baseball.

Like making contact with the ball. Repeatedly and meaningfully.

Flagg went 3-for-5 with a home run and six RBIs in the K-Mets’ 10-9 Appalachian League loss to the Greeneville Astros on Monday night at Hunter Wright Stadium.

“You’ve got to keep playing,” said the 6-foot-6, 245 pound Flagg. “You can’t do anything else but keep playing.”

True to form, Kingsport blew an early four-run lead only to battle to the bitter end with tying and go-ahead runs stranded in scoring position at the last out.

The K-Mets (10-23) banged out 10 hits, with Alonzo Harris going 2-for-4, R.J. Harris going 2-for-5 with a dinger and an RBI, and Richard Lucas getting a double.

“It’s kind of how our season has gone so far. Tough breaks. We’ve been putting up runs mostly every night,” said Flagg, whose steady production kept hopeful fans in their seats for nine innings.

Kingsport wasted little time putting the onus on Greeneville starter Juri Perez. Flagg collected his first RBI of the night when he plated Alonzo Harris in the first with a single. R.J. Harris followed, bouncing one off the top of the scoreboard in right field for his second home run of the season.

Kingsport starter Jhonathan Torres plunked leadoff batter Bubbie Williams in the third inning for his second hit batsman of the night. Williams scored on first-round draft pick Jiovanni Mier’s single to trim Kingsport’s lead to 3-1.

The K-Mets made it 5-1 in the bottom of the third on Flagg’s two-run shot to left, his fifth.

“They blew a couple fastballs by me. But I tried to make an adjustment and they tried to bring it inside. I just put a good swing on it,” he said.

Like so many early leads this season, it was as brief as a summer shower.

It all came undone for Kingsport’s 19-year-old Venezuelan left-hander in the fifth when Torres was shelled for five earned runs off five hits, including a brace of two-run homers by Williams and Frank Almonte, the latter of which put Greeneville ahead 6-5. Torres (0-3) pitched to the entire Greeneville order that frame.

“We kind of took advantage of their left-hander when he left a couple of balls up,” said Astros manager Rodney Linares. “We swung the bats better and had some good situational hitting.”

Reliever Gilliaume Leduc became acquainted with the lineup in the sixth. After Grant Hogue’s infield hit, a walk to Williams gave Greeneville incentive to lay down its third successful sacrifice bunt of the game. Mier cranked a double to left to score two runs, going on to score on Almonte’s triple that outfielder R.J. Harris chased until he crashed into the fence in left field.

The outfielder appeared to be all right, but Kingsport’s prospects looked pretty grim. Greeneville added another run on an Oscar Figueroa double for the 10-5 lead.

Kingsport trimmed it to 10-7 in the seventh, getting an RBI double from Richard Lucas while Flagg added an RBI groundout. The big first baseman made it 10-9 in the ninth with his two-RBI base hit to center.

The Astros rolled out stopper Travis Smink, who coaxed a popup out of R.J. Harris, dealt an intentional walk to Cesar Puello to load the bases, then struck out pinch-hitter John Semel.

Kurt Steinhauer lined out to right field to end it.

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