KINGSPORT — The brooms were not visible Saturday evening at Hunter Wright Stadium, but the sweep was on.
The Johnson City Cardinals shut down the Kingsport Mets for the third straight night, winning 8-1.
The positives were few for the Mets in the loss. Starting pitcher Yoan Gonzalez threw three shutout innings before yielding two runs in the fourth inning, and reliever Alberto Maldonado recorded shutout innings in the eighth and ninth.
First baseman Jeff Diehl connected for the team’s first home run of the season. The homer ended a streak of 21 scoreless innings for Kingsport.
That was about all that went the Mets’ way.
“Tonight was tough, a poor all-around game. We made five errors and it’s hard to win with that,” said K-Mets manager Jose Leger.
Johnson City scored two runs in the fourth behind Kyle Grieshaber’s double.
Grieshaber later scored in the sixth inning on a wild pitch, followed by Devante Lacy’s RBI single for a 4-0 lead.
The Cardinals batted around in the seventh, when they tallied four more runs for the final score.
“It’s just a matter of momentum now. They are working hard; we just need to get a couple good games under our belt,” Leger added.
One of the young Mets having some early success is second baseman Jeff McNeil.
McNeil, a 12th-round pick out of Long Beach State, went 1-for-3 with a double. And while the Appalachian League season is just three games old, there has been some adjustment from the college game.
“The game has a lot more velocity that I’ve got to get used to, especially the pitching inside,” McNeil said.
The 6-foot-1 rookie was born and raised in Nipoma, Calif., a town close to the size of Kingsport.
“I like it here. Nipoma is a lot like Kingsport, the size is about the same,” he said. “Maybe not as much to do, but there are plenty of places to eat as well as hang out.”
The K-Mets begin a six-game road trip today. The team plays series of three games each in Bristol and Greeneville before returning home next Saturday to play Elizabethton.