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By PAT KENNEY
KINGSPORT — In their quest to earn a coveted Appalachian League playoff berth, the Kingsport Mets took a step in the right direction Thursday with a 6-1 win over the Elizabethton Twins at Hunter Wright Stadium.
The K-Mets’ Juan Urbina, in improving to 2-4, pitched six stellar innings, scattering five hits while allowing just one run and striking out six.
“What we saw out there tonight from Urbina was concentration, a total focus. And he threw his secondary pitches really well,’’ said Kingsport manager Frank Fultz. “He knew we had to win this game and he got the job done.”
With the victory, the K-Mets (20-23) drew within three games of the Twins (23-20), who are currently in second place in the West Division.
After setting down Elizabethton in order in the top of the first, Urbina watched as his teammates jumped all over Twins starter David Hurlbut (2-4). The K-Mets scored three runs on four hits to give Urbina a comfortable early cushion.
The inning was highlighted by a solo home run over the left field fence by Kingsport first baseman Tant Shepherd.
“That was a real good start for us,” said Fultz. “It helped take some of the pressure off and let us play relaxed.”
Urbina held the Twins in check until the sixth inning when Miguel Sano hit a solo homer on the first pitch he saw.
Showing some moxey, the K-Mets answered right back with two more runs in their half of the sixth to extend the lead to 5-1. Kingsport added an insurance run in the eighth when Shepherd blasted a double and then scored on a single by Cam Maron.
“The momentum looked like it was changing when Elizabethton got that home run,’’ said Fultz. “I like that we came right back and scored. That stopped their rally.’’
Elizabeththon manager Ray Smith was to the point when discussing his team’s performance.
“We were a little stale in that first inning,’’ he said. “Our pitcher didn’t keep the ball down and Kingsport took full advantage.
“And our defense wasn’t real sharp,’’ added Smith. “We kicked it around a little and that added to the problems.’’
Shepard went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI, while Maron added two hits, a run scored and two RBIs.
The teams close out their three-game series tonight at 7 p.m. at Hunter Wright.