KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Mets looked almost invincible the past two weeks.
On Friday evening, however, the Johnson City Cardinals brought a little Kryptonite with them to Hunter Wright Stadium and left with an 11-3 win.
Entering the game, Kingsport boasted a 13-3 record over its last 16 games.
The Cardinals’ Vaughn Bryan made an opening statement early. The center fielder led off the game with a solo home run for a quick 1-0 lead.
Kingsport came back with single runs in the second and third innings to go up 2-1, with the latter coming via a solo home run by catcher Jeyckol De Leon.
That was as good as it would get for the Mets.
Johnson City tallied eight runs over the next three innings with the highlight a three-run homer by Justin Ringo in the sixth.
“They were just a little better than we were today,” said K-Mets manager Jose Leger. “We struggled at the plate and didn’t get what we wanted out of our starting pitching,”
The Cardinals tried to let everyone in on the offense. Of the teams 12 hits, eight of nine batters contributed to the barrage.
Bryan, Ringo, Jhohan Acevedo and J.J. Altobelli each had two hits. Bryan and Ringo accounted for three RBIs apiece.
The Mets’ Victor Cruzado was 2-for-3, leaving him second in the Appalachian League in batting with a .346 average.
Cardinals reliever Nick Lomasco (2-1) came on in relief of starter Anderson Gerdel in the fifth inning to pick up the win. Lomasco, Gerdel and Michael Holback combined to allow six hits.
Thursday night’s rainout in Bristol left Greeneville to play a doubleheader with the White Sox on Friday and gave the K-Mets an opportunity to pull into a first-place tie in the Western Division.
The Astros managed a split with the Sox, however, and that coupled with the loss left Kingsport still trailing by two games.
“These guys check stats and are aware of the standings. But we try to preach that we take it pitch by pitch knowing a lot of different things can happen in baseball,” Leger said.
Last season the Mets stayed near the bottom of the division throughout the year. Several members of that team are back for 2013, including Jon Leroux.
“There is so much difference from last year this year. It makes it so much easier to come to the ballpark knowing we are battling for the lead,” Leroux said.
“We know we are in it but still have to take it a game at a time.”
The series with Johnson City wraps up Saturday night with first pitch set for 7 o’clock.
The Mets then play Greeneville on Sunday before a rare off day Monday.