Ned Jilton II
KINGSPORT — Thanks to a six-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Kingsport Mets cruised to a 10-4 victory over the Bristol Pirates at Hunter Wright Stadium on Wednesday night.
The victory — Kingsport's sixth in its last seven games — catapulted the K-Mets back into the Appalachian League West Division pennant chase. Kingsport is now 3 games behind division-leading Elizabethton and just a half a game behind Johnson City, which is clinging to the second and final playoff spot in the West.
But after the game, the standings were the last thing on the mind of Kingsport manager Jose Leger.
"We just go day by day. We don't even talk about it," Leger said. "We talk about doing our best and going pitch by pitch. Obviously when you do things right, the byproduct is the wins.
"It's just a matter of going game by game and seeing what happens."
Such is life in the rookie leagues, where embracing the process trumps winning a pennant. But if the K-Mets keep playing like they have for the past week, playoff baseball could become a reality.
Kingsport pounded out 13 hits on Wednesday and built a 10-1 lead just four innings into the contest. Vicente Lupo went 4-for-5 with a homer, two doubles and four RBIs to lead a potent offensive attack while starter Andrew Church (3-4) worked into the sixth inning to earn the win.
"Our hitting came early and we gave Church enough support to go out there and do what he did," Leger said. "He wasn't able to finish the six innings like we wanted him to because of his pitch count, but he did a really good job mixing up his pitches.
"Lupo had a really good night at the plate. The top of the order was getting on base and the middle of the order was driving them in."
Lupo broke the ice in the bottom of the first inning by launching a two-run, two-out double into right field to stake the K-Mets to a 2-0 lead.
Wuilmer Becerra hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the third to push Kingsport's lead to 4-1 before the floodgates opened in the bottom of the fourth. Luis Guillorme got things rolling in the fourth with an RBI single before Oswald Caraballo hit a three-run homer and Lupo hit a two-run home run to put the K-Mets (26-25) up 10-1.
That was more than enough for Church, who didn't have his best stuff but managed to gut it out. The righty allowed four runs — two earned — on seven hits in 5 1-3 innings before turning it over to the bullpen.
Christian Montgomery and Ramon Estevez came on in relief and neither pitcher allowed a run.
Bristol starter Omar Basulto (1-3) took the loss for the Pirates (15-36) after giving up five earned runs on six hits in 3 1-3 innings.
The two teams will play Game 2 of a three-game series in Kingsport tonight at 7 o'clock.comments powered by Disqus