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Wild play at the plate breaks K-Mets' slide

KEVIN MAYS, [email protected] • Jul 2, 2018 at 10:47 PM

KINGSPORT —The Kingsport Mets are becoming notorious for wild finishes, and Monday night was no different.

The K-Mets ended a three-game losing streak by taking a 2-1 Appalachian League win over the Pulaski Yankees in a game that ended in a frenzy at Hunter Wright Stadium.

A REAL WILD ONE

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that,” K-Mets manager Sean Ratliff said of the game-ending putout by Kingsport catcher Hayden Senger and relief pitcher Andrew Mitchell.

Pulaski (5-8) trailed 2-1 with two outs in the top of the ninth and had Carlos Tatis on second base.

Mitchell’s breaking ball got away from Senger and rolled quickly toward the fence near the Pulaski dugout. As Senger gave chase, Tatis went to third base standing up before breaking for home in an attempt to tie the game.

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Senger slid toward the fence to grab the ball, turned and whipped a throw to a waiting Mitchell as Tatis began his slide at the plate. Mitchell was in time with the tag, giving the K-Mets (8-4) the win.

TOUGH BEHIND THE PLATE

The throw from Senger, who had two of Kingsport’s six hits in the game, was just one of several big plays he made Monday.

“Hayden Senger was absolutely tremendous behind the plate tonight,” Ratliff said. “He worked his tail off from pitch one. He blocked the first pitch of the game. He went down and got it, and that’s the kind of kid he is. That’s the kind of work ethic he brings behind the plate.”

BIG INNING

Both starting pitchers, Matt Cleveland of Kingsport and Wellington Caceres of Pulaski, threw solid games and kept the bats quiet through the early innings.

The K-Mets got to Caceres (0-2) in the bottom of the fifth when Zach Rheams led off the inning with his first hit in professional baseball. Rheams scored the first run of the game later in the inning when Guillermo Granadillo delivered the third single of the frame.

Ranfy Adon scored the K-Mets’ other run in the inning after reaching base on a fielder’s choice and coming home from third on a wild pitch.

GEM OF A GAME

Cleveland (1-0), making his second start for the K-Mets, bounced back from his debut earlier in the year at Johnson City by holding Pulaski scoreless with only one hit over the first five innings. He recorded three strikeouts and three walks in picking up the win.

“I had a different approach from last time,” the 2016 draftee from Windsor, Conn., said. “I was a little more amped up today and I wanted to take more of a relaxed approach. So today we worked on fastballs in on them and that helped me be more effective. Also I developed my curveball today, so that helped me out a lot.”

CLOSING IT OUT

Andrew Ryan and Luis Silva kept the Yankees scoreless in the late innings before Mitchell, Kingsport’s fourth pitcher, came on.

In the top of the ninth, Ezequiel Duran put the Yankees on the scoreboard with a solo home run to center off Mitchell.

Mitchell then struck out Tatis, but he went to first when the third-strike pitch got away from Senger. Mitchell struck out the next two Pulaski batters, but Tatis moved to second on another wild pitch.

When Mitchell delivered another pitch that moved away from Senger, Tatis attempted to take two bases but was thrown out on the game-ending play.

GAME THREE TUESDAY

The teams are scheduled to play again Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Hunter Wright Stadium in the rubber match of the three-game set.

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