Twenty-three runs over the course of two games should be enough for a pair of wins ? but not when surrendering 22 over that same span.
Johnson City danced to the plate in its hitting shoes for the second straight game, but the pitching staff was way too similar in the categories of baserunners (25) and outs recorded (27).
Elizabethton eventually worked its way to a 15-7 victory in an Appalachian League baseball game Monday night at Cardinal Park. The Twins (11-7) moved within a half-game of Johnson City (11-6) for first place in the West Division.
The teams will meet again tonight at 7 o'clock. The game will be played at East Tennessee State University's Thomas Stadium.
Max Murphy did quite a bit of damage for the Twins. The ninth-round pick out of Bradley University went 3 for 3 with a homer and four RBIs, pushing his season batting average to .411. He also has five homers and 15 RBIs.
He said falling behind 12-0 to the Cardinals on Sunday before making a comeback in a 16-7 loss made the Twins determined to turn the tables.
“We really wanted to see how we would bounce back after that,” said Murphy. “We wanted to come out strong. We knew we could beat them.”
Murphy said the changing rosters year to year doesn't take away from this rivalry.
“We have a decent amount of fans who come out (at Cardinal Park),” said Murphy. “And everybody around here talks about the rivalry.”
The Twins decided a quick strike was the best offense Monday. They made good use of two hits, getting three runs thanks in part to a two-run left-field Harvey Wallmisser off the bat of Tyler Mautner.
But the Cardinals, came back with a trey spot. Cole Lankford's rip-stiff line drive down the third-base line turned into an RBI double. Casey Grayson followed with and RBI groundout, and Chris Rivera rapped a straight-lace single to drive in Lankford and tie the game at 3-3.
Johnson City briefly captured the lead with Blake Drake's RBI double in the bottom of the second, but the Twins had another trey spot in their pockets. Murphy homered, another run scored on a wild pitch, and Alex Real doubled his fun with an RBI two-bagger to make it 6-4.
Overall, Cardinals manager Johnny Rodriguez said the pitching just didn't get the job done.
“The starting pitching did not do a good job, and we've struggled for two days in the bullpen,” said Rodriguez. “We've got to get that fixed. We have to pitch more down in the zone.
“The hitting was good. But the bottom line is this: to be a good club you can't have peaks and valleys. You have to be a level line in all phases of the game.”
The Twins worked on an expansion project in the fourth and fifth innings. They got a run on Tyler Kuresa's sacrifice fly in the fourth, and then a wild pitch in the fifth made it 8-4.
Here came de los Cardenales again, getting three back ? bottom five ? by way of a two-run error and Carlos Torres' RBI single.
Apparently the Twins were feeling the heat, and they got two runs in the top of the sixth with Murphy's RBI single and Kuresa's second sac fly of the evening to move out to a 10-7 advantage.
More Twins fun broke loose in the top of the seventh as Jeremias Pineda used the RBI-single route to run production and Murphy got two bags for the price of one hit with a RBI to go.
Elizabethton capped its scoring in the ninth with Trey Vavra's RBI and Real's ringing two-run double down the left field line.
Real finished with three hits and three RBIs for the Twins. Mautner had two hits and two RBIs. Pineda had two hits, an RBI and scored four times.
Vavra and Nick Gordon each had two hits and three runs scored.
Also, the Twins totaled four scoreless innings of relief from Cameron Booser and Dereck Rodriguez.
Casey Turgeon got three hits and scored three times for the Cardinals. Drake added two hits and Grayson finished with two RBIs.