Johnson City couldn’t close the door, and on they played.
The Cardinals blew a three-run ninth-inning lead, eventually forcing extra innings with Kingsport, and the Appalachian League baseball game sailed into the 13th inning at press time Sunday night at Cardinal Park.
Start time for the game was 6 p.m., and the game was closing in on 4½ hours as the Mets batted in the 13th with the scored at 5-5.
Johnson City, which lost Saturday to fall to 10-2 on the season, was trying to maintain a four-game lead over Bristol (7-6) and the Mets (6-6) in the West Division.
The Cards appeared to have the game under wraps, taking a 5-2 lead into the top of the ninth inning. However, things went awry in a hurry.
Reliever Tyler Mills walked the leadoff batter, and Tillman Pugh somehow managed an RBI ground-ball triple down the left field line. The ball was slowly retrieved from left field as Pugh cruised into third base.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt then went to Dyllon Nuernberg on the mound, and he surrendered an RBI single to Jeffrey Glenn to make it 5-4.
After a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout, Nuernberg tossed a pair of wild pitches to give up the lead.
At that point, both teams’ offenses went silent. The Mets threatened in each of their first extra-inning at-bats, but Johnson City went nine up and nine down.
Much earlier in the game, the Mets struck first. They got an RBI double from Jeffrey Glenn in the top of the second.
However, Johnson City bounced back quickly and loudly in the third inning. The Cards scored four times, plating the first two on an error and a wild pitch.
Anthony Garcia later added an RBI double and Gary Apelian brought in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Johnson City scored an unusual run in the sixth inning. With one out and Steven Ramos on second base, Tyler Rahmatulla hit a fly ball to deep center field. The center fielder routinely made the catch on the high fly ball, but his throw back to the infield wasn’t sharp. Ramos never stopped running and made it a two-base sacrifice fly for a 5-2 lead.