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The Johnson City Cardinals waited a while for this one.
Johnson City defeated Greeeneville 7-5 on Monday in the completion of an Applachian League game which was suspended back on July 22. A second game was still in progress at press time.
The suspended game started with the Astros leading 5-4 and the bases loaded for the Cardinals in the bottom of the fifth. Richy Pedroza hit into a fielder’s choice to score Rowan Wick. Two innings later, Wick sent a home run sailing over the right field fence for a winning score.
“It’s kind of weird to start a game when you’re picking it up where it was left off,” Cardinals manager Joe Kruzel said. “It’s a whole different feeling. But, Richy battled in that at-bat and he hit the ball soft enough that they couldn’t turn two. Then, Rowan Wick came through with the big blow a couple of innings later.”
Pedroza added a RBI double to score Justin Ringo later in the seventh inning for the game’s final run.
With the victory, Johnson City (26-24) pulled within six games of Greeneville (32-18) in the West Division standings.
The Cardinals had a strong pitching performance from recent addition Ismael Brito, who struck out three batters and gave up two hits in 1 2/3 innings. Kyle Grana, another recent addition to the bullpen, picked up the win giving up just one hit over the next 1 1/3 innings. Zach Loraine pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the save.
“The two new guys, Brito and Grana, did a nice job of throwing strikes and keeping the score,” Kruzel said. “It was good to get them in there and let them get their feet wet. They were in a tight ballgame and were able to have positive results.”
Back in July, the Astros had scored five runs in the top of the second only to see Johnson City respond with a run in the third, two in the fourth and one more in the fifth before the rains came.
Officially, the Cardinals scored seven unanswered runs and collected 11 hits overall. Ringo finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Lead-off Vaughn Bryan ended 2-for-5, while Pedroza was 1-for-2 with two RBIs.
“He gives you good at-bats,” Kruzel said about Pedroza, a 17th-round pick in the 2013 draft. “He battles and puts the ball in play most of the time. That two-out RBI was huge as the game went on.”
In addition to closing on the Astros, Johnson City pulled within 3 1/2 games of Kingsport for the wild-card spot. It was no surprise to Kruzel after the Cardinals won their third straight game and improved to 8-2 over their last 10 games.
“I’ve said from day one, I like the character this team has,” Kruzel said. “They never give in and they play hard for nine innings. If you keep doing that, you have a chance to stay in some games. It’s a credit to the kids and how they play hard the whole game.”