Johnson City's Cole Lankford makes contact during Sunday's game.
A fast start and strong finish trumps a solid middle.
Johnson City broke loose for six runs -- four of them on the sweet swing of
Chris Rivera -- in the first inning, and then held off determined Danville 10-8 in an Appalachian League baseball game Sunday at
It was the home opener in front of a full house on WCQR's Faith and
Family Day, and the fans were treated to 19 runs on 28 hits.
Johnson City improved to 3-1, and will continue its three-game set against
Danville (2-2) tonight at 7 o'clock at the bird yard.
OK, so it wasn't so fun to be a pitcher, but the batter's box was hopping
with production. Johnson City even got an 8-for-15 performance from
its bottom three hitters in the order: Rivera, Cole Lankford and
Rivera made the biggest impression, jumping all over a Ian Stiffler fastball
and hanging a home-run sign — “See Grand Slam Here” — over
the left field fence. In a video interview that can be seen at
or on Twitter @FritzBlitzzz, Rivera said a 3-2 breaking ball to
previous hitter Jose Godoy — which became a bases-loaded walk —
gave him a clue on what he would see on his first pitch. He used that
knowledge to give his team a 5-0 advantage.
“I wasn't sure it was over,” said Rivera. “I thought it might hit
the wall. I ran the bases as hard as I could because you never try to
show anybody up.”
Videos from the game are available at the aforementioned sites, including Rivera's greeting at home plate by his teammates.
Often times the grand slam is a rally killer, but not in this case.
Lankford, Torres and Anthony Ray followed with a trio of singles off
the rattled Stiffler to make it 6-0.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Danville had different ideas about going down
without a fight.
“When you have a big inning, the next inning has to be a shut-down inning
with three quick outs,” said Cardinals manager Johnny Rodriguez.
“When they got two runs, they got hope.”
The Braves put together a rally — which included Jordan Edgerton's
third-inning home run — and eventually closed within 7-5 heading to
the bottom of the sixth. Then in
the bottom of the seventh, Blake Drake and Casey Grayson each had RBI
hits to push Johnson City ahead 9-5.
It still wasn't over as Edgerton plated three runs with a bases-loaded
single, plus an error, in the top of the eighth, and Danville was
knocking at the door again.
The Cardinals answered as Torres had an RBI single in the bottom of the
Grayson had a big day at the plate, going 4 for 4 with two doubles, three
runs and an RBI. One the season, he's mashing at .545 clip.
Ray went 2 for 5 for the Cards while Neil added two hits off the bench.
Winning was a product of battling, said Rodriguez.
“These guys are fighters,” said Rodriguez. “They fight when they are
ahead, and they fight when they are behind. They play through errors,
and they are good at damage control. I thank the Lord, Jesus Christ,
Edgerton finished with three hits and three RBIs for the Braves while Cody
Livesay and Mike Dodig each totaled two hits.
Dailyn Martinez battled his way through five innings to get the win. He
allowed six hits and five runs, three earned, with three walks and
Ismael Brito worked a scoreless ninth to earn his first save.