Johnson City battled through two rain delays to snap a seven-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the Elizabethton Twins on Friday night at ETSU’s Thomas Stadium.
The Cardinals (15-18) were cruising with a 3-0 lead over the Elizabethton Twins in the eighth innning when a second round of storms caused a stoppage of 61 minutes.
It gave the Twins a second chance, which they scored one run and had the tying runs on base. But, the Cardinals held on and pushed Elizabethton’s losing streak in the Appalachian League to six games.
Afterwards, Johnson City manager Joe Kruzel praised the efforts of his starting pitcher Dailyn Martinez, who gave up just one hit and two walks over six innings. The 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic improved to 2-1 with the win.
“Martinez threw a heck of a game,” Kruzel said. “He stayed ahead of the hitters and induced early contact. We turned some double plays behind him. The defense, Kenny Peoples-Walls and J.J. Altobelli, made some nice plays. They got him out of some mini-jams so to speak. But the bottom line, the guys on the hill did a heck of a job for us.”
Reliever Zach Loraine held onto the lead by just giving up one hit over the next two innings before closer Michael Holback gave up three hits, but struck out three batters in the ninth.
The Cardinals got enough offense off a pair of home runs.
Vaughn Bryan led off Johnson City’s efforts with a crushing home run over left field in the first inning. Bryan wasn’t really looking for a long ball, however, when he came up to the plate.
“The first at-bat of the game and all I wanted to do was to get on base,” Bryan said . “The home run was an accident. He threw me a fastball middle in and I took advantage of it.”
Johnson City added its final pair of runs off Ronnierd Garcia’s two-run blast which bounced off the scoreboard in the fourth inning. For both Bryan and Garcia, it was their second home runs of the season.
They obviously helped end the losing streak, which their manager said hasn’t been a big topic of conversation in the locker room.
“The losing streak has been more talked about outside the clubhouse than inside the clubhouse,” Kruzel said. “During that time frame, we did some things well, but on some nights just came up short.
“We had some chances against Greeneville in some games, but we didn’t execute and they did. They were a hot club at the time too. But, we kept playing hard. It’s nice for the kids to come out and get a “W.”
Elizabethton, now faced with its own skid, finally got on the scoreboard in the final inning. With one out, Stuart Turner singled on a line drive to center field. It was followed by a single by Rory Rhodes and another by Romy Jimenez which was mishandled in the outfield and allowed Turner to score.
With the Twins having the tying runs on base and the winning run a the plate, the Cardinals’ Holback held firm. He rared back and struck out the final two batters to pick up his first save of the season.
The teams will meet in the second game of a three-game series today at Cardinal Park. Game time is set for 6 p.m