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K-Mets falter late in loss to Bluefield

Douglas Fritz • Jul 10, 2018 at 12:21 AM

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — It looked like the Kingsport Mets were going to waltz out of Bluefield with their solitary first-place shoes still on their feet.

The Blue Jays had other ideas for the dance Monday night.

After rallying for four ninth-inning runs to tie the game, Bluefield stymied the K-Mets in the top of the 10th inning and then got a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the frame to earn a dramatic 10-9 victory.

The Blue Jays (16-4) extended their Appalachian League East Division lead to four games.

Kingsport (10-8) fell into a tie for first place with Elizabethton in the West Division.

THE NEW RULE

With a runner placed on second base to start each half of every extra inning, the offense has the advantage. Kingsport wasn’t able to get its man home despite loading the bases with one out.

In the bottom half, two intentional walks set the stage for disaster. Ivan Jean’s intentional walk of Andres Guerra brought Cal Stevenson to the plate with the bases loaded. Stevenson took a 3-2 pitch high and inside to force in the winning run.

UNABLE TO HOLD IT TOGETHER

Leading 9-5, Kingsport was in position to take care of business with three more outs.

After reliever Eric Villanueva recorded a strikeout to start the frame, things went haywire. Rafael Lantigua singled and Andres Guerra followed with a home run to make it 9-7.

A fielding error kept the rally heated, and Dominic Abbadessa added a base hit. After a grounder moved both runners up, Alejandro Kirk crushed the K-Mets’ hopes of a ninth-inning finish with a two-run single to tie the game.

Villanueva sent the game to extra innings by striking out Luis De Los Santos.

THE BIG GETAWAY

Leading 2-1, Kingsport took control of the game with a four-run fifth. The inning was started by two singles and a walk before Raul Beracierta delivered the game-changing blast with a grand slam over the fence in right-center field.

It was the third home of the season for the 19-year- old Venezuelan center fielder, who is hitting at a .378 clip.

BLUEFIELD RESPONDS

The Blue Jays didn’t roll over. They notched a four-spot of their own in the bottom of the fifth inning.

The big play came with the Blue Jays trailing by three runs. De Los Santos singled in two runs and eventually scored on the play after a pair of Kingsport errors. Suddenly the game was tight again at 6-5.

STAT LEADERS

Bluefield got two hits each from Abbadessa and De Los Santos, and Guerra and Kirk both drove in a pair of runs.

Sean Rackoski continued to find late-game victories. He earned his fourth win of the season with no losses, this time needing only two-thirds of an inning to get the job done.

For Kingsport, Zach Rheams had three hits and Beracierta totaled two. Domingo Martinez drove in a pair of runs.

Jean (2-1) was tagged with the loss.

ON HIS WAY

Outfielder Jarred Kelenic, the New York Mets’ first-round draft pick this year out of Waukesha West (Wis.) High School, is on his way to Kingsport.

Kelenic was promoted from the Gulf Coast League after batting .413 with two doubles, two triples, a home run, nine RBIs and four stolen bases over 12 games.

The Mets took the left-handed outfielder, who turns 19 on July 16, with the sixth overall pick in the June 4 draft. Kelenic signed with the organization for $4.5 million.

BACK HOME

The K-Mets are back at Hunter Wright Stadium for a seven-game homestand starting tonight when they open a four-game series with the Greeneville Reds. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, the K-Mets and Reds take the field early for an 11 a.m. start as part of Kingsport’s annual Camp Day for kids.

Kingsport opens a key series with the division rival Twins on Saturday.

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