KINGSPORT — The Burlington Royals don’t look like the worst team in the Appalachian League.
Luis Del Rosario went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run and two RBIs as the Royals took a 10-5 win over the Kingsport Mets on Tuesday night at Hunter Wright Stadium.
“He started the season doing really good, hitting .300 almost all year. Then he had maybe 10 days he was struggling,” said Royals manager Nelson Liriano. “The last three or four games ... he’s swinging the bat really well.”
Burlington (17-31) put the pressure on Kingsport (17-26) early by not swinging. In the first inning, Jovan Pickett and Yowill Espinai got on base with consecutive bunt singles.
It got worse in a hurry for K-Mets starter Angel Cuan (1-2). Del Rosario’s deep-fly double to center scored Pickett before Fernando Cruz drove in Espinai and Del Rosario with a solid single to left. Diego Cruz added another RBI single for a 4-0 lead.
Burlington got an unearned run in the second inning after Pickett reached thanks to an error at second by Ryan Mollica. Pickett stole second and went on to score on Joseph Bonfe’s throwing error.
Starter Tyler Sample (2-2) picked up the win for the Royals, giving up two runs off three hits, striking out seven and walking one over 5 1-3 innings.
Burlington made it 7-0 in the top of the fourth, scoring two runs off three hits and Cuan’s second hit batter of the night.
The K-Mets finally got one on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth. Richard Lucas, aboard with a walk, got to third on R.J. Harris’ single and scored on an error at short.
The Royals answered with another run in the fifth inning. Malcom Culver scored when shortstop Luis Nieves threw the ball over Bonfe’s head well after Cruz was on base safely with a single.
In the sixth, Del Rosario poked his third shot of the season over the Green Coach Tours sign in left field. He said it was his hardest-hit ball of the season.
The Royals added another run when K-Mets reliever Zachary Von Tersch walked four straight batters.
Mollica helped amend for his earlier miscue in the bottom frame, stroking a solo homer over the Jameson Inn sign in right field. He also collected an RBI double during the K-Mets’ three-run rally in the seventh, which halved Burlington’s lead to 10-5. That surge also included an RBI double by Pedro Zapata and an RBI single from Lucas.
Mollica, who suffered a concussion when he was hit in the back of the head by a relay throw at Pulaski, returned to action after a required 10-day layoff. He went 3-for-5 and scored two runs.
“I thought he was swinging the bat well before he got hurt,” said K-Mets manager Mike DiFelice. “It was nice to see him step back on the field and swing the bat.”
Personnel from the New York Mets front office were at Hunter Wright on Tuesday night, including special assistant to the general manager Sandy Johnson, scouting director Rudy Terrasas, minor league pitching coordinator Rick Waits and roving minor league pitching instructor Al Jackson.