KINGSPORT — Johnson City and Kingsport occupied the same baseball diamond on Sunday night, but they didn’t seem to share the same sense of urgency.
The Cardinals jumped out to an 8-0 lead and held off a furious rally by the K-Mets to win 10-7, maintaining their spot atop the Appalachian League’s Western Division in the process.
It was a classic case of too little, too late for the cellar-dwelling K-Mets, who surrendered eight runs in the first three innings before finally coming to life in the middle innings.
“We played a two-sided game today,” Kingsport manager Mike DiFelice said. “The first half wasn’t very good, the second half of the game was a lot better, but it was too late.
“We got beat, you know? We’ve got a team that comes in here and wants to beat us, and they did. We’ve got to get it together and want to go out there and beat some teams.”
Johnson City (14-6) rode the momentum of Saturday’s 14-4 onslaught into Sunday’s contest.
The Cardinals shelled Kingsport starter Lachlan Hodge (0-3), who gave up seven earned runs on seven hits in 1 2-3 innings of work, and added a pair of runs late to put the brakes on Kingsport’s comeback.
Johnson City dominated the two-game series by pounding out 31 hits and scoring 24 runs, running its winning streak to eight games.
“We came out swinging the bats well and got out to a nice lead,” Johnson City skipper Mike Shildt said. “We kind of cruised a little bit and then we added on when we needed to add on there at the end because they just kept coming at us.”
Boone Whiting (2-0) went five innings to earn the win for Johnson City, surrendering just two earned runs on six hits. When Whiting left the game, however, the K-Mets finally got their bats going.
Albert Cordero launched a three-run homer in the sixth to pull Kingsport within three runs. The K-Mets (7-13) plated runs in the seventh and the ninth to make things interesting, but the early deficit proved to be too much to overcome.
Greg Garcia scored three runs out of the leadoff spot for Johnson City while Romulo Ruiz, Kleininger Teran and Cesar Valera each had a pair of RBIs.
Even though the Cardinals have ridden their current winning streak to the top of the standings, Shildt said it hasn’t been a topic of conversation.
“We just go out there every day, streak or no streak, and prepare like we’re supposed to and play the game like it’s supposed to be played,” he said. “That’s all we can do — we just play.”
Aderlin Rodriguez finished with a pair of double and an RBI for Kingsport. ZeErika McQueen tripled and scored while Justin Schafer added two RBIs.
DiFelice said that his team will need to figure out how to jump on opponents early in order to turn around a slow start to the season.
“It’s hard to always try to play from behind, so we need to come out there and do a better job of wanting to put it to some teams right off the bat,” he said.
Kingsport will play at Johnson City tonight at 7 o’clock and remain on the road for the rest of the week.