The Kingsport Mets overcame five errors to take a 6-4 Appalachian League win over the visiting Burlington Royals at Hunter Wright Stadium on Monday night.
“Today we started out a little ugly,” K-Mets manager Mike DiFelice said. “Five errors in two innings, then we come out and get solid pitching and solid relief pitching and get some nice innings with runs and we get a win out of that.
“It’s a nice turnaround.”
Headed in, Burlington (16-31) led the Appalachian League with 90 stolen bases. On Monday night, the Royals got two stolen bags from Victor Soto and another from Luis Del Rosario.
“We play aggressive baseball every day. We try. That’s all we’ve got to do,” said Burlington manager Nelson Liriano.
In the first inning, the K-Mets (17-25) gifted Burlington with three errors to help load the bases with only one out. Miguel Moctezuma grounded to Kingsport starter Armando Rodriguez, whose throw collected the force-out of Jovan Pickett at the plate.
Catcher John Freeman’s subsequent throw to first baseman Jeff Flagg wasn’t in time to beat Moctezuma, but Flagg snapped it to Joseph Bonfe at third to catch Luis Del Rosario for the double play.
Freeman, who would go on to gun down two Burlington baserunners, allowed Malcolm Culver to score in the second inning on his errant pickoff throw. That play snowballed into a second run when shortstop Mochizuki — who had three errors — threw the ball away trying to erase Derek Rodriguez.
“I think a few of those errors are just bad decisions. He’s not going to get the runners anyway. (Mochizuki) was trying a little too hard to make a play,” said DiFelice. “And we’re trying to get our catcher to take advantage of pickoffs. So how do you fault guys for trying to be aggressive?”
Those two unearned runs were the only runs scored on Rodriguez (2-0). He gave up seven hits over five innings, striking out five and walking three.
The tables finally turned on the visitors in the fourth inning as the K-Mets pulled ahead 4-2, scoring four runs off three hits, including a brace of two-RBI doubles from Pedro Zapata and Kurt Steinhauer.
“We’re definitely doing a better job of minimizing after our mistakes now,” said Steinhauer. “That’s something we weren’t able to do prior in the season and we’re getting a lot better at it.”
Kingsport added two more runs in the fifth on one hit and an error. R.J. Harris, who rapped into a boot at third, scored on Richard Lucas’ double. Lucas advanced to third on a wild pitch by Ryan Dennick and scored on a subsequent wild one for the 6-2 lead.
Lucas went 2-for-4 with two doubles for the K-Mets. Alonzo Harris collected a double, while R.J. Harris had a stolen base.
The Royals trimmed Kingsport’s lead to two runs in the top of the ninth. K-Mets closer Travis Babin plated one by hitting Moctezuma with a pitch with the bases loaded.
After giving an RBI base-on-balls to Culver, Babin blocked Cruz’s grounder to the mound, making the throw to first to chase away the last shadow of doubt.