David Bergin went 4-for-5 to double his hits total on the season and prevent the Johnson City Cardinals from doubling their loss total.
Bergin lofted an 0-2 changeup just beyond shortstop Bryan Brito in shallow left-center field to score Anthony Garcia and seal the Cardinals’ 5-4, 10-inning victory against the Pulaski Mariners on Friday at Cardinal Park.
The celebratory Cardinals, who are now 10-1 on the season, circled Bergin at first base for what resembled an upright dogpile.
After Pulaski (7-4) scored twice in the ninth inning to take a 4-2 lead, Bergin started a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth with a leadoff single. Bergin doubled off the left field fence in the second inning and singled and scored in the sixth.
His game-winning single was the only hit that wasn’t hit hard. In fact, he wasn’t sure if he’d hit it far enough.
“At that moment I didn’t think so, but it just went right over his head,” said Bergin, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound outfielder from Tampa by way of Tennessee Wesleyan. “It was a changeup. It broke my bat and everything. I tried to stay right through the ball. I just tried to stay up the middle with it and not do too much with it.”
Bergin was 4-for-19 coming into the game.
“The beginning of the season has been a little rough,” Bergin said, “but I’m working hard and finally seeing the ball better.”
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt was quick to credit Bergin and hitting coach Ramon “Smokey” Ortiz.
“He had some really quality at-bats,” Shildt said. “The thing that’s impressive is that each at-bat got progressively better. They pitched him tough last night, pitched him tough early tonight — really pitched him tough the whole game — and to his credit, he slowed the game down.”
Garcia started the game-winning rally with a one-out walk. David Washington followed with a line-drive single to right field. Jeremy Dobbs then struck out Gary Apelian to set up Bergin’s two-out stage.
The Cardinals had good fortune, too. Bergin scored on Steven Ramos’ groundout in the ninth to make it 4-3, and pinch runner Tyler Rahmatulla scored on a two-out wild pitch to force extra innings.
“We’ve just been winning everything,” Bergin said. “It’s been real fun. We’ve got a really good group of guys.”
The Cardinals’ tied the score at 2 on Roberto De La Cruz’s two-out, two-run double to right-center field in the sixth. Daniel Paolini’s two-out solo home run got Pulaski on the scoreboard in the first, and Jamal Austin scored to make it 2-0 in the sixth after walking, stealing second and coming home Paolini’s sacrifice fly to right field.
Johnson City starting pitcher Jose Pasen, a right-hander who converted from the outfield in the 2008 Instructional League, allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up two hits, walked two and struck out four.
“His breaking ball’s been more consistent and his change has been effective and he’s got a nice arm,” Shildt said. “He’s starting to get a feel for his secondary pitches, which is promising for his pitching career.”
Dyllon Nuernberg (2-0) struck out two and walked two durin a scoreless 10th for the victory. Left-hander Manuel De La Cruz struck out three during a perfect 1 1/3 innings of relief for the Cardinals.
Pulaski starter Ambioris Hidalgo struck out eight in six innings. He had a shutout going until his last pitch, which Roberto De La Cruz hit for the two-run double before being thrown out at third to end the inning while trying to stretch it to a triple.
De La Cruz and Washington each were 2-for-4. Paolini’s 2-for-4 night included a bunt single.
The final game of the three-game series is today at 6 p.m.