The Kingsport Mets' Ritchie Rodriguez in the batter's box during the first game of the K-Mets' doubleheader with the Danville Braves.
KINGSPORT — A 12-5 win by Danville in the first game of the Kingsport Mets’ Appalachian League doubleheader Friday wasn’t what the home crowd at Hunter Wright Stadium wanted to see.
The K-Mets ensured their most loyal fans went home with a warm, happy feeling.
Persio Reyes struck out 11 batters over six innings and Kingsport concluded its homestand with a 1-0 victory over the Braves.
The nightcap marked the 20-year-old Dominican right-hander’s most impressive outing to date.
And it was impressive.
“The main thing about this game was Persio. He just did an outstanding job,” said K-Mets manager Jose Leger.
“He just came out and his tempo was great. He pounded the strike zone, used his fastball and his change-up was outstanding. He started mixing in his slider and he was tough today. He was very hard to hit.”
Reyes (2-1) had a no-hitter going up until Victor Caratin’s broken-bat infield single interceded in the fourth.
The Kingsport starter got into a spot of trouble in the fifth after giving up a lead-off double to Alejandro Piloto.
A heads-up putout decision by Reyes erased Piloto at third.
Shortstop Yeixon Ruiz committed a throwing error on the heels of a fielding error, jeopardizing Reyes with runners at second and third.
Reyes got himself out of trouble by whiffing Justin Black and Mike Dodig for strikeouts No. 9 and No. 10.
The Kingsport righty retired the side in the sixth, striking out Caratin to wrap up his shift. Robert Coles was called out of the bullpen to close.
The fans wanted to see Reyes pick up a complete game victory — even if it was a seven-inning show. But there are pitch counts in rookie league for a reason.
” His count was getting up there and we have to protect these guys’ arms,” Leger said. “When its getting close to the limit, you don’t want to send him out there. You don’t know if the next hitter is going to foul out 10 pitches in a row and put him over the pitch count.”
After one out in the top of the seventh, the crowd got a little antsy when Danville got successive singles from Piloto and Ronald Luna. But Carlos Sanchez knocked into a double-play turned by third baseman Richie Rodriguez, second baseman Jeff McNeil and first baseman Pedro Perez.
The K-Mets had seven hits scattered through the lineup. Left fielder Joe Tuschak drove in the winning run in the fourth frame, plating Victor Cruzado with a ground single into right.
In the opener, Kingsport exploded for five runs in the third inning to overtake the Braves 5-4. But Danville added two runs in the fourth, three in the sixth and three in the seventh while Dakota Dill (1-0) and Michael Swanner combined for four shutout innings.
The K-Mets highlight: designated hitter Jonathan Leroux stepping in to pitch in the top of the seventh to finish the half-inning.
Leroux’s contribution kept Leger from having to tweak the nightcap rotation — a terrific out, as it happened.