The answer is 1996, or at least it was until Jeyckol De Leon’s bloop single in the 10th inning on Wednesday evening at Hunter Wright Stadium locked up a playoff position for the K-Mets and ended the organization’s 17 year playoff drought.
Kingsport’s win coupled with a loss by the Johnson City Cardinals punched the K-Mets’ ticket into the postseason.
Standing in first place with a half-game lead over Greeneville, the Mets can finish no worse than second in the Western Division.
The regular season ends Friday with a three-game divisional playoff beginning Saturday.
De Leon’s single scored Yeixon Ruiz, who had singled earlier in the inning.
Bluefield had walked pinch-hitter Dominic Smith to get to De Leon, who recorded his third walk-off hit this season.
It looked grim early as Kingsport fell behind 4-1 and didn’t show many signs of life during the first six innings. But the K-Mets rallied with a five-run seventh to take a 6-4 lead.
The Blue Jays came back with two runs in the ninth to knot the score at 6.
Kingsport’s second baseman Jeff McNeil went 4-for-6 and raised his season average to .321. He is now has the second highest batting average in the league.
The playoff format has the second-place team hosting the first game of the three-game series with the second and third games hosted by the first-place squad.
The winner will then face the Eastern Division champion in another three-game series for the league championship.
Game 2 of the series with Bluefield will be played tonight with the first pitch scheduled for 7 o’clock. Tonight is also Reader Appreciation night sponsored by the Kingsport Times-News.