KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Mets picked a fine time to shake out of their early-season doldrums.
Working in front of a season-high crowd of 2,001 at Hunter Wright Stadium, the K-Mets clobbered the Pulaski Mariners 13-1 Friday night to snap a six-game Appalachian League losing streak.
Kingsport manager Mike DiFelice cited the team’s quick turnaround from Thursday’s game — a 13-3 loss to this same Pulaski club.
“Last night, that’s something that can really push you down the ladder. They came back and responded to what we had to say, and it showed today,” DiFelice said. “It’s one day and hopefully tomorrow they still come out and respond — no matter how the outcome of the game is.”
Outscored by a combined margin of 47-6 during the losing streak, the K-Mets (3-8) got to run wild on the opposition this time.
Kingsport jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one inning and tallied in each of the first four frames to amass an 8-0 advantage.
The K-Mets rapped out 22 hits — easily a season high — and several struggling hitters boosted their own offensive numbers.
“Guys started working counts, taking more productive swings and it showed,” DiFelice said.
Ismael Tijerina came in batting just .200 but had four hits out of the leadoff spot. Eddie Lora, hitless in his prior 10 at-bats, homered to lead off the bottom of the third. Catcher Albert Cordero, who was hitting .185, had two doubles, a single and three RBIs.
Kingsport’s outfielders had the biggest nights, however. Right fielder Jorge Rodriguez, the Mets’ second-round draft choice in 2008, homered for the second consecutive game as part of a 3-for-5, five-RBI performance. Rodriguez’ homer was a two-run job in the fourth. He finished a triple shy of the cycle.
Then there was center fielder ZeErika McQueen. Batting third in the lineup after previously being a mainstay at the top of the order, McQueen went 5-for-5 with four runs scored. The Mississippi native had two hits out of the cleanup spot on Thursday.
Also a leadoff hitter last year for the Mets’ Gulf Coast League team, McQueen said the different spot in the order matters little when it comes time to step into the batter’s box.
“Just go out there and make contact,” he said. “Hopefully tomorrow, we come out and swing the bats the same way.”
Pulaski broke up the shutout on Ramon Morla’s solo home run. That made it an 8-1 game but Kingsport continued to pile it on, plating a run in the sixth and four more on six hits in the eighth.
Samuel Taveras (1-1) recorded the win in relief, spelling Jacob deGrom with one out in the fifth. It was a bounce-back game for deGrom, who worked 4 1-3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk with a pair of strikeouts. He got knocked around for 10 hits and five runs in his pro debut last Saturday against Elizabethton — an 8-0 defeat that sparked the recently halted skid.
“This time, I just went out there and trusted my stuff,” deGrom said. “Last time, I think I was trying to overthrow the ball. I felt way better tonight.”
And kept Pulaski hitters off balance by throwing frequent changeups.
The two teams play the rubber game of their Appy series tonight.