The Johnson City Cardinals couldn’t produce any late-inning fireworks Saturday and Pulaski salvaged game three of a series at Cardinal Park with a 6-3 victory.
Mariners starter Mayckol Guaipe allowed two runs in six innings for the victory, and fellow right-hander Angel Raga worked two scoreless innings for his fifth save.
The Cardinals fell to 10-2 on the season while Pulaski improved to 8-4.
After scoring twice in the ninth and getting a game-winning, two-out, two-strike hit in the 10th on Friday, Johnson City looked like it might muster another rally after Pulaski had taken a 6-0 lead with three runs in the sixth on Saturday.
Ronald Castillo led off the bottom of the sixth with a single and scored on Tyler Rahmatulla’s one-out home run. Rahmatulla hit a 2-0 pitch over the scoreboard in left field.
It appeared the Cardinals would continue carving into the deficit when Gary Apelian led off the seventh with a double high off the fence in right-center field that must have traveled some 380 feet. But Apelian was tagged out after getting caught in a rundown on Roberto De La Cruz’s ground ball to shortstop, and left-handed reliever Kyle Hunter struck out Kolby Byrd and Jesus Montero on offspeed pitches to end the inning.
Castillo also led off the eighth with a single and scored to make it 6-3, but Raga stranded Matt Williams at third base. Raga retired three straight batters — two via strikeouts — after a leadoff walk in the ninth.
“It was good to see we didn’t have any hangover from last night’s game,” Pulaski manager Rob Mummau said. “That was kind of a tough one to lose. The guys came out and played hard and things went our way a little better tonight.”
Raga has allowed two hits, one walk and no earned runs while striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings this season. Guaipe (3-0) gave up five hits, walked none and struck out four.
“They pitched well,” Johnson City manager Mike Shildt said. “Their starter had a good changeup — ahead or behind in the count. In any league that’s tough; in this league it’s especially effective if you can execute it, and he was able to do it. ...
“We didn’t execute. We had a lead double and didn’t score, and when you’re down like that you just want to keep chipping away and take advantage of every opportunity you have. We just couldn’t quite get that done tonight.”
Jean Acevedo was 3-for-3 with two RBIs for Pulaski. Jordy Lara was 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and an RBI.
“(Lara) is a kid that’s got pretty good hands as a hitter and he’s got a real good approach,” Mammau said. “He can really generate some bat speed.”
Nick Gillung and Michael Santana combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief for Johnson City. Left-handed starter Ben Freeman (0-1) had allowed three runs through 5 1/3 innings, but then allowed three straight hard-hit singles before being lifted. All three of those runners scored thanks, in part, to an error.
“Santana came in and Gillung came in and gave us a chance at the end,” Shildt said. “That’s all you can expect out of your bullpen. And Freeman competed well. He got better as the game went, but just couldn’t quite execute in the end. ...
“One thing we like about Santana is he’s aggressive. He’s aggressive and he’s down in the zone. That’s a good combination.
Apelian and Castillo were each 2-for-3.
“I was telling Mike, their manager, prior to this game that their batters don’t give any at-bats away,” Mammau said. “They really grind out at-bats.”
Castillo also robbed Kenny Straus of extra bases by running a long way to make a catch in left-center field when Straus led off the seventh with a slicing line-drive in the gap. The left-handed batting Straus led off the third with a harder-hit ball, a blast to right-center field for his second home run of the season.
Johnson City hosts Kingsport today at 6 p.m. and will visit Kingsport Monday at 7 p.m. before beginning a three-game series in Bluefield, W.Va., on Tuesday at 7 p.m.