Kingsport's Jeff McNeil scrambles back to first to evade a pickoff throw in Tuesday's Appalachian League game with Elizabethton at Hunter Wright Stadium.
KINGSPORT — Kingsport passed out the rally caps late Tuesday evening at Hunter Wright Stadium. It worked.
The Mets came away with a 5-4 comeback victory over Elizabethton.
Between handshakes and sigining autographs catcher Jeyckol De Leon could not dodge the water bucket poured on his head.
He wasn’t phased to be soaked because minutes earlier he had singled in the game winning RBI.
Trailing 4-3 going into the bottom of the ninth, Jeff McNeil singled and tied the game on Jeff Diehl’s deep double to centerfield.
The Twins chose to walk DH Joe Tuschak and take their chances on De Leon.
It didn’t work. De Leon’s single plated Diehl from second.
It was his third hit of the night and second RBI.
“This was great to get the hit for the win, earlier I had let some balls get by me and it feels great to make up for it,” said De Leon
The ninth inning heroics wiped away an outstanding effort by starting pitcher Robert Whalen.
Whalen pitched into the eighth inning allowing four hits with nine strikeouts for a no-decision.
Entering the contest Whalen led the Appalachian League with a .68 ERA. He did allow one earned run.
“He was throwing strikes and able to mix it up and keep them off balance,” said Met manager Jose Luger. “I wanted to leave him in through the eighth but we didn’t support him defensively. I felt bad for him because he pitched such a great game.”
The nine strikeouts give him the league lead with 39.
Entering the eighth, Kingsport had a 3-0 lead. RBI singles by De Leon, Joe Tuschak, and McNeil accounted for the margin.
Four hits and an two errors later, Elizabethton had taken a 4-3 advantage.
Two of the runs came on a passed ball and a wild pitch.
“I felt like we started going backwards in the eighth but these guys never give up. They keep on battling,” added Luger.
McNeil, Tuschak and Victor Cruzado had two hits each for the Mets.
Zach Granite, Rory Jimenz and Javier Pimental had two hits each to lead the Twins’ effort.
Entering the contest Kingsport was in third place behind Elizabethton in the league’s West Division.
The win pulls the Mets to a 1/2 game behind the Twins for second place. They can move into second with a win tonight.
Kingsport has won nine of their last eleven games but can’t seem to gain on league leader Greeneville.
Tueday’s 5-4 win over Johnson City has the Astros on a current 11-game winning streak.
The three game series continues tonight with a 7 p.m. starting time.