KINGSPORT — It was vintage Appalachian League: 31 runs, 31 hits and 10 errors.
Thirty minutes into the game Saturday night, Kingsport’s cause seemed hopeless. The K-Mets trailed 7-0 in the second inning.
With a playoff spot beckoning, they rallied dramatically for a 17-14 victory over Burlington.
After the K-Mets exploded for seven runs in the seventh to go ahead 15-12, an enthusiastic crowd of 1,303 gave them a standing ovation.
“That was special,’’ manager Frank Fultz said. “The fans showed their appreciation in a nice way.”
Kingsport had to offset the blazing bat of shortstop Michael Antonio, the Royals’ 2010 third-round draft choice. He collected his eighth and ninth homers of the season to drive in five runs.
All told, there were four homers clearing the Hunter Wright Stadium fences.
Everything eventually came together for Fultz’s team, which moved into a tie with Elizabethton for second place in the West Division. The Twins lost to Greeneville 6-0.
Eleven pitchers went to the mound attempting to tone down the slugfest. Kingsport pitching coach Jonathan Hurst called on seven.
“We were down to the trainer and the strength coach,” Hurst said. “With things happening so fast, we had to make split-second decisions. It came down to making pitches. We just tried to keep the guys focused. They had to stay ahead in the count. If you don’t, hitters will be looking for fastballs.”
Burlington batted a complete round in the first and second innings to go up 7-0. Likewise, the K-Mets sent nine batters to the plate during a four-run second.
Kingsport plugged away and finally took the lead. Dustin Lawley, who homered in the fourth, drove in the tying run with a single to left field in the seventh. Julio Concepcion’s hit put the home team ahead 13-12. Cam Maron’s two-run, standup triple gave the K-Mets some insurance.
In the ninth, Fultz gambled to keep the momentum going. Kingsport’s final run came on a double steal.
“It was an extraordinary game — one of those you’ll remember for a lifetime,’’ Fultz said. “We got very lucky on some errors.’’
The K-Mets appear serious about claiming a playoff berth with a second-place finish.
“At the start of the season, we talked about going out every day and playing with a purpose,’’ Fultz said. “Our objective was to represent this city well and give the community a good product.”
Sunday’s game with the Royals is set for 5 p.m. A church bulletin will be accepted for free admission.
“Fan Appreciation Night” will be observed on Monday with no charge at the gate as the K-Mets face Danville.