Wins don’t have to be delivered with a towering walk-off homer, or even a line-drive clutch hit late in the game.
Sometimes all it takes is a patient at-bat and then a little contact.
Devante Lacy led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and eventually scored on Casey Turgeon’s grounder. The run put Johnson City ahead, and the Cardinals held on for a 2-1 win over Bluefield in an Appalachian League baseball game Monday night at Cardinal Park.
The Cardinals, who made it work with just one more hit (4) than errors (3), improved to 18-17 on the season but remained four games behind West Division-leading Elizabethton as the Twins got the best of Greeneville.
Cardinals’ manager Johnny Rodriguez recognized what was happening as the game drifted toward the middle innings.
“This was a one-run game,” said Rodriguez. “One of the coaches asked if it was going extra innings, and I said, ‘No, it’s a one-run game, and we need to find a way to score.’ ”
Lacy got it started by drawing the walk, and got a little help from Bluefield when he moved to third on a wild pitch with one out. Earlier in the game, Rodriguez didn’t have a runner going on contact in a similar situation. This time, there was no doubt.
“(Rodriguez) said I was going on contact,” said Lacy. “I thought the first baseman would come up firing.”
There was no throw by Lydell Moseby as Lacy’s jump was simply too good.
“(Moseby) had a shot, but it was a great jump by Lacy,” said Rodriguez. “Lacy gives us energy out there.”
Both starting pitchers were rocking the quick-out boat. Bluefield’s Ryan Borucki sailed through four innings while Johnson City’s Julio Mateo was more than just solid through six. Mateo allowed five hits and one unearned run while walking one and striking out two.
“This was a National League game,” said Rodriguez. “There was good pitching. The defense broke down a couple of times, but the pitchers did a good job with damage control.”
Johnson City’s Jonathan Escudero (1-1) then broke loose on the K-Train with four wood whiffs in two innings of work.
That set the stage for Anderson Gerdel, who pitched around a leadoff error to earn his fourth save of the season.
“Gerdel is a strike thrower, and his secondary stuff has gotten better,” said Rodriguez.
Bluefield broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fourth inning when the Cardinals couldn’t quite turn a double play. With the bases loaded and one out, Sean Hurley grounded to Cards’ shortstop Oscar Mercado, who flipped to Turgeon for the force at second. However, Turgeon’s throw to first could not get Hurley and Dan Jansen scored.
Johnson City got even in the bottom of the fifth inning. Turgeon took a sweet swing and made rock-solid contact. The high fly just cleared the right field fence for a four-bagger game-tying shot.
Success in the late innings was not a surprise to Lacy. He said the Cardinals believe in each other.
“We are very confident in late-game situations: pitchers, hitters, relievers,” said Lacy. “We have confidence that the guys are going to get the job done.”
Moseby finished with two hits for the Blue Jays.
The two teams meet again tonight at 7 o’clock at the Bird Yard.