KINGSPORT — Fortune favors the bold, as the old saying goes.
So much the better when the bold move is also the smart move.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Vincente Lupo stole home to lift the Kingsport Mets to a 4-3 Appalachian League victory over the Greeneville Astros.
Lupo's preceding line-drive double to right field scored pinch-runner Branden Kaupe and tied the game at 3. He moved to third on a wild pitch by Greeneville reliever Samil De Los Santos.
The K-Mets' designated hitter perfectly timed his jump as the right-handed De Los Santos delivered a breaking ball to pinch-hitter Luis Ortega. Greeneville catcher Jacob Nottingham was out of position to recover in time to tag the sliding Lupo.
Lupo's game-tying double off the right-field wall and Eudor Garcia's RBI double that preceded it were both off fastballs by De La Santos. Kingsport manager Jose Leger, who was coaching at third, calculated the steal to be the high-percentage play.
"That guy has a really good split. We took advantage of him throwing the fastball early and that's why we tied the game," said Leger. "I knew he wasn't going to throw more fastballs there. I knew that pitch wasn't going to be close. I think the odds of Ortega hitting there weren't really high ... and I told Lupo to get the jump to home plate."
The victory was the ninth in 10 outings for the K-Mets (30-26), who moved to within 1 1/2 games of West Division leader Elizabethton.
The energy at the finish was commensurate with a team making a run at the postseason. Lupo jumped up grinning after the safe call and gave a victory howl as his teammates poured out of the dugout to celebrate.
"By now they know we have a legit chance, and they're looking forward to getting in the playoffs," said Leger, whose team faces Greeneville at home again tonight at 6 p.m. "It's a game-by-game thing. We have to always play the game hard and finish strong."
Kingsport took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Luis Guillorme scored on Garcia's sacrifice fly to left.
K-Mets starter Persio Reyes allowed only two hits over six innings of shutout baseball, striking out four and walking two.
That came unraveled in the seventh when Audry German had a bad third of an inning of relief pitching. He walked three batters, plunked another and was on the hook, charged with three earned runs before Matt Blackham brought the inning to a close with Kingsport trailing 3-1.
"He came from the (Gulf Coast League) and I believe this is his fourth outing," Leger said of German. "He came into a pressure situation. It was probably a little bit too much for him, and he didn't have command of his fastball."
Blackham allowed a stranded single in the eighth and Craig Missigman (1-0) allowed one walk while closing the shutout ninth.
Garcia finished 3-for-3 with two RBIs for Kingsport. Oswald Caraballo's leadoff single sparked the ninth-inning comeback.comments powered by Disqus