The Kingsport Mets had just enough personality Monday evening to slip by the Burlington Royals 6-5 at Hunter Wright Stadium.
The teams combined for 23 hits, but the Mets were 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and the Royals finished 2-for-13.
The Mets’ winning tally came in the eighth inning when the score was tied at 5. Jeff Diehl hit a one-out single to left field and later scored on a double by Eris Peguero.
“Energy wasn’t where it should have been at the start of the game, in the dugout or on the field,” Diehl said. “It began to pick up as we went along, but we definitely need this win.”
Diehl finished with three hits and an RBI, and scored two runs. Jeyckol De Leon and Amad Rosario added two RBIs each.
Kingsport starter Yoan Gonzalez pitched into the fifth, giving up all five Burlington runs and allowing nine hits. Relievers Edioglis Villasmil and Robert Coles combined for a shutout over the last four innings, surrendering just three hits.
“You expect a little more out of the starting pitching and we have not been getting that lately,” said K-Mets manager Jose Leger, who was forced to go to the bullpen in the first inning of Sunday’s 6-0 loss to the Royals. “Gonzalez was inconsistent and we had wanted to give the bullpen a rest after the past couple of days.”
Tuesday night closes out a nine-game homestand that has not gone as hoped. Kingsport, battling the bottom-place teams in the Appalachian League, has won only three out of its eight games so far.
“It has been disappointing but not expected. You can be playing the weakest teams and not be playing your best,” Leger said. “I tell the guys you have to keep battling every day.”
Fortunately, with just two weeks to go in the regular season, the K-Mets have gotten some help from other teams in their battle for a playoff spot out of the West Division. After Greeneville’s 2-0 loss to Elizabethton on Monday, Kingsport now is just 1½ games out of first place in the division.
Kingsport’s series with Burlington continues Tuesday with first pitch set for 7 p.m.
Kingsport begins a six-game road trip Wednesday with stops in Bluefield and Pulaski.