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Otañez’s arm, Regnault’s bat power K-Mets to win

By JEFF BIRCHFIELD • Jun 18, 2019 at 11:05 PM

GREENEVILLE — Michel Otañez brought the heat and Andres Regnault provided the muscle on opening day in the Appalachian League.

Otañez, the starting pitcher for the Kingsport Mets, gave up one hit over five scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 8-3 win over the Greeneville Reds at Pioneer Park. The 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic struck out eight and walked two.

“We were hoping for four (innings) and we got a bonus,” K-Mets manager Rich Donnelly said. “His limit was 75 (pitches) and he got up to 72. The good other part is we got three other pitchers in the game. That’s the goal this week: to get everybody in the game.

“It’s like a baptism where you get dipped in the water and find out what it’s like out here. Overall, these young kids, a lot of them the first time out here, it was a good night.”

Regnault drove in four runs, including a two-run home run over right field in the fourth inning that put the K-Mets up 3-0. The 6-foot, 250-pound outfielder from Venezuela finished 3-for-5.

“I felt very comfortable and I feel happy because I helped my team win the game,” Regnault said. “I feel great for me and my team.”

Cole Kleszcz, a 33rd-round draft pick from California, was 2-for-5 for the K-Mets, who outhit the Reds 9-6.

Jose Salvador took the loss after pitching 3 2/3 innings and giving up three runs on four hits and striking out six.

“It was a good win, but I see a lot of things we have to clean up,” Donnelly said. “For a first night for a lot of these kids who had never played under the lights, it was good. Our bullpen was good at the end, not so much in the middle. We got some timely hits and I’m happy about that.”

MORE RUNS ON THE BOARD

Kingsport got its first run in the fourth when Gregory Guerrero’s RBI triple plated Jaylen Palmer, and Regnault followed with his two-run shot.

The Reds closed within a run in the bottom of the seventh. Carlos Reina led off the inning with a double to right field. Reina advanced to third on a wild pitch by Yadiel Flores, and Cristian Olivo’s single to right field sent him home. Another Flores wild pitch allowed Olivo to score Greeneville’s second run.

Kingsport responded with three runs in the top of the eighth. Regnault lined a two-out single into right field that plated Palmer and Scott Ota for his third and fourth RBIs. Kleszcz then scored off Tanner Cooper’s wild pitch for a 6-2 lead.

The K-Mets added a pair of insurance runs in the ninth on a two-run single by Kleszcz that brought home Jhoander Saez and Sebastian Espino.

Raul Juarez’s homer over left field for Greeneville in the bottom of the ninth provided the game’s final run.

SCORE, WAIT, NO SCORE

Kingsport appeared to score two runs in the third inning, but they didn’t hold up.

Regnault and Kennie Taylor raced home after Sebastian Espino struck out, but Greeneville catcher Reina dropped the ball. Espino was tagged out running to first, although it was originally ruled he was safe before the call was overturned.

NEXT UP

The second game of the three-game set is scheduled for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The series shifts to Kingsport for Thursday’s finale.

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