Gerald Chin found a nice comfort zone in Johnson City.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Chin plays for the Braves.
The Danville second baseman went 3 for 5 with a homer and four RBIs on Tuesday night, leading the Braves to a 7-2 win over Johnson City in an Appalachian League game at Cardinal Park.
With Chin going 6 for 12 in the series with seven RBIs and five runs scored, the Braves (4-2) took two of the three games from the Cardinals (3-3).
Confidence is growing for the 21-year-old from Changuinola, Panama.
“I’ve been working and listening to the coaches,” said Chin through interpreter Ivan Cruz, the Braves’ hitting coach. “I feel good and definitely hope a game like this boosts my confidence not for today, but for the rest of the season.”
For Johnson City it was a second straight loss as the Cards prepare for a three-game road series against Bristol. Manager Johnny Rodriguez said failing to take advantage of opportunities doomed his team.
“We had chances offensively, but we were unable to get the big hit,” said Rodriguez. “We struggled with runners in scoring position.”
The reason for those pressure-situation struggles is just a matter of a mental approach, said Rodriguez.
“It anxiousness,” he said. “We need to realize the pitcher is in trouble, and we can hit our pitch and not his. But we chased.”
It didn’t take long for the Braves to strike. In the top of the first inning, Cole Livesay walked and stole second base. He worked his way home on a pair of groundouts.
Danville pushed its advantage to 3-0 in the third inning. Chin had an RBI single, and Luis Monasterio brought Chin home with a sacrifice fly.
The Cardinals answered in the bottom of the third. Anthony Ray singled, stole second, and scored on Blake Drake’s line-drive double over the right fielder’s head.
Johnson City pulled within a run in the bottom of the fifth as Cole Lankford drew a two-out walk and scored on Casey Grayson’s double.
Danville made it 4-2 in the top of the seventh inning on Chin’s RBI groundout.
Then the Braves put the game away in the seventh. Alejandro Piloto coaxed one over the left-center field fence, and Chin followed later with a drive that cut a swath through the night sky over the right field fence.
Alec Grosser started and pitched four solid innings for the Braves, but Michael Flores (1-0) grabbed the win in relief.
Livesay, Piloto and Fernelys Sanchez each had two hits for Danville with Livesay scoring three times.
Making his professional debut for the Cards, Josh Wirsu allowed three hits and three runs, two earned, in three innings.
“He was nervous early, and we made a non-play early that didn’t help him,” said Rodriguez. “Jordan DeLorenzo was very good tonight for three innings.”
DeLorenzo allowed three hits, no runs, no walks, and struck out three.
Casey Grayson and Chris Rivera each had two hits for the Cardinals.
Notes: Johnson City’s Ian McKinney was named the Appalachian League’s Pitcher of the Week for the week of June 16-22.
The Orlando, Fla., native pitched seven shutout innings in his second start of the season at Bluefield on June 21. In his Johnson City debut, McKinney allowed only two hits while fanning five Blue Jay batters.
McKinney’s first start of 2014 actually came in Williamsport on June 15, for the State College Spikes (Class A Short Season). At Williamsport, the 2013 fifth-round pick pitched five innings while giving up two runs on four hits with five strikeouts.