So did his counterpart.
Starter Jacob Petitt combined with two relievers to allow only four K-Mets to reach base, and the Bluefield Orioles got out of Hunter Wright Stadium with a 2-1 victory.
Bluefield (9-21) had lost five straight to Kingsport, including the prior two games in this series.
Petitt set the tone in the final meeting between the two teams this Appalachian League season.
Petitt (2-2) held a Kingsport team in check that had scored 13 runs in its previous two games. He allowed one run and three hits in six innings without walking a batter.
Petitt’s relief was even better. Andy Deain and Andrew Huebner pooled their efforts for three perfect innings, with Huebner’s 1-2-3 ninth resulting in his first save with Bluefield.
“We needed this one today,” said Orioles manager Einar Diaz, who’s skippering the team with the worst record in the Appy. “Petitt did a great job on the mound to keep us in the game. And we had good pitching after that. Excellent job today.”
The K-Mets (13-17) got strong pitching as well. Hebert went a season-long six innings, tallying eight strikeouts and allowing two runs on five hits and a pair of walks. The effort by the former eighth-round pick came one night after Gonzalez Germen threw a full seven innings.
“Their pitch counts are higher, they’ve been in the system for a few years. They’re dictating to us how long they’re going to stay in the game,” K-Mets manager Mike DiFelice said.
“Michael Hebert took a step forward,” DiFelice added. “He handled his emotions and didn’t let the game get away from him. He found the strike zone, threw a lot better breaking ball today, put himself in position for a win and kept our team in the game.”
Last season, the K-Mets spent the first month in a piggyback system where the starter would throw no more than five innings before a previously designated reliever took the mound. That’s also been the case in years past in Kingsport.
With guys like Germen and Hebert (2-3) going deeper into games, it’s also letting the K-Mets’ well-populated bullpen to stretch out. Relievers often are throwing two or three innings at a time — as Steve Winnick did Thursday — rather than being limited to one-inning appearances.
“There’s no piggyback system in the big leagues. Or Double-A or Triple-A,” DiFelice said.
Winnick surrendered a single base runner — on Brandon Webb’s triple — in his three innings.
Webb tripled twice as part of a 3-for-3 night, with his first three-bag hit plating Bluefield’s first run in the opening inning. The Orioles mustered a two-out rally on Hebert consisting of two singles and two walks to plate the other run in the fifth.
Kingsport didn’t lose any ground in the West Division. Front-runner Johnson City lost 7-3 to Elizabethton, and still leads the K-Mets by seven games in the standings.