Good teams bounce back.
One night after wasting an early lead, Johnson City came back with a vengeance that would have made movie star Clint Eastwood proud. The Cardinals put a 17-1 beatdown on Greeneville on Thursday night at Cardinal Park.
One-third of the way through the Appalachian League schedule, Johnson City (17-6) maintained its three-game lead over Elizabethton in the West Division.
It was a season-high run total for the Cardinals, and it made life easier for starter Jose Pasen — who turned in a performance that would have been good enough for a pitcher’s duel win.
Pasen gave up five hits and no earned runs in six innings. He walked one and struck out eight.
“My curve ball was working,” said Pasen through an interpreter. “It was really good and sharp.”
Pasen was staked to a 7-1 lead after two innings, but didn’t ease up at all. He retired eight of the next nine hitters he faced.
“I lost a little focus,” said Pasen. “But I bounced back and kept things going.”
Cardinals’ manager Mike Shildt said Pasen’s effort was fantastic.
“He made quality pitches,” said Shildt. “It says a lot for him to compete like that. It was a good quality outing.”
And it was a superb game throughout the Cardinals’ lineup. Steven Ramos totaled three hits, and six other Johnson City batters totaled two hits. The Cardinals finished with 17 hits.
Matt Williams went 2 for 5 and had four RBIs. He hit one of three Johnson City home runs while Roberto De La Cruz and Neil Pritchard also went over the fence. Cruz’s shot was a three-run blow.
“Our guys had great at-bats,” said Shildt. “Tonight our hitters gave away nothing in any at-bat. It’s a tribute to their work approach and preparation.”
David Washington, Pritchard, De La Cruz, David Bergin and Jesus Montero each had two hits. Montero finished with three RBIs while Pritchard, Bergin and Kobly Byrd each drove in two runs.
Johnson City broke things wide open in the second inning, putting a seven spot on the board. Bergin delivered the first big hit, raking a two-run double into the right-center field gap to make it 3-1.
Montero followed with a shot to the same gap, driving in two more runs to give the Cardinals a 5-1 lead. That wasn’t the last of the loud hits as Byrd smoked a double to left field to finish off the onslaught.
Still cruising, the Cardinals applied the knockout punch in the fifth inning. With two outs, Washington hit one off the wall and hustled it into a triple. After a walk, De La Cruz slammed one high and hard over the left field wall for a 10-1 lead.
Johnson City wasn’t finished. The Cards piled on another deuce when Williams drilled one into the post office parking lot.
Then in the seventh inning, the Cardinals got RBI hits from Montero and Ramos, and a two-run single from Williams to make it 16-1.
The hits just kept coming, and Pritchard planted one into the left field net in the eighth inning.
Notes: Johnson City scored 20 runs in a playoff win over Burlington last season. The Cardinals’ regular-season high last year was 15 runs against Kingsport on July 18. …
Johnson City scored 19 runs against Greeneville on August 12, 2008. …
Johnson City will play host to Princeton tonight at 7 o’clock.