KINGSPORT — In the midst of a heated battle for an Appalachian League playoff spot, the Kingsport Mets put together stellar pitching and timely hitting Tuesday night to down visiting Pulaski 2-1 at Hunter Wright Stadium.
The K-Mets (25-23) remained one game behind Elizabethton (26-22) for second place in the West Division after the Twins rallied to beat Danville 3-2 in extra innings.
The top two teams in each division earn playoff berths at the end of regular-season play.
“In the heat of a race for a postseason berth, you have to win the close games, especially at home,’’ said Kingsport manager Frank Fultz. “We talked about how much fun it is to be playing games that have meaning.
“There are still a lot of games left to play, but we hope to still be battling for a playoff spot as the season winds down.’’
Jacob Lugo (3-1) went six strong innings for the K-Mets, scattering four hits, allowing just one earned run, striking out five and giving up no walks.
Chasen Bradford pitched two innings of relief, giving up one hit and striking out four. Jared West closed it out in the ninth to pick up the save.
“Lugo was as good tonight as he’s been all season,’’ Fultz said. “And once again our bullpen did a great job.’’
Cam Maron got the K-Mets on the board with a two-out single in the first inning. He stole second and raced home when Julio Concepcion stroked a single into left-center.
Pulaski tied the game in the third when Jamal Austin drove in Franklin Christian, who had doubled.
The K-Mets responded in their very next at-bat. Yucary De La Cruz opened the frame by slapping the first pitch he saw all the way to the center-field wall, racing all the way around the bases and sliding safely for a triple.
After a walk to Juan Gamboa, Dustin Lawley drove De La Cruz home with what would prove to be the game-winning run.
From that point on it was all in the hands of K-Mets pitching. Lugo handcuffed Pulaski over his final three innings on the mound and Bradford and West continued to frustrate the Mariners, preserving another crucial victory.
“I thought we were a little flat coming off the road trip,’’ Fultz noted. “But our pitching came through for us and we got the hits when we needed them.’’
The pitching was the key, Pulaski manager Rob Mummau said.
“Kingsport’s pitchers did a nice job of keeping us off balance all night,’’ Mummau said. “We are going to have to be more patient at the plate.’’
Lawley finished 3-for-4.
The series continues tonight at Hunter Wright. First pitch is set for 7 o’clock.