The K-Mets lost 9-5 to the Burlington Royals, who scored five runs in the top of the sixth inning to blow open a close game at Hunter Wright Stadium. But a couple of hours later, Kingsport clinched an Appalachian League wild-card playoff berth after Bristol lost to West Division champion Elizabethton.
Kingsport (32-33) stayed three games ahead of the Pirates in the division standings with just three games left, and the K-Mets hold the head-to-head advantage.
The Royals (24-41), long eliminated from contention, have been the league’s hottest team over the past week. They swept the series in Kingsport and have won six of their last seven games.
Going into the sixth, the Royals held a two-run lead, but two errors and a wild pitch by the K-Mets — coupled with Eric Cole’s two-run single and an RBI single by Freddy Fermin — put Burlington in charge.
Burlington led 4-0 before the K-Mets responded in the bottom of the fifth. Domingo Martinez started off the frame with a double and later scored on Raul Beracierta’s RBI groundout.
The K-Mets added a second run in the fifth on an RBI single by Guillermo Granadillo. After the onslaught by Burlington in the sixth, Beracierta tripled to center field to drive in Ronny Mauricio and make the score 9-3.
Kingsport added a couple of runs in the ninth. Martinez took a bases-loaded walk and Mauricio hit into a forceout that scored Granadillo. Granadillo and Ranfy Adon each finished 2-for-4.
Matt Cleveland (1-4) suffered the loss after giving up nine hits and seven runs — four earned — in 5 1/3 innings. Allan Winans threw 1 2/3 innings for the K-Mets and Luis Silva pitched two shutout innings.
Marcelo Martinez (5-3) got the win. He struck out six, walked one, scattered six hits and allowed three runs.