Johnson City’s 10-4 victory over Bristol at Cardinal Park Friday night wasn’t as easy as 1-2-3, but it appeared as easy as 4-5-6.
The Appalachian League West Division leading Cardinals (24-13) scored runs in each of the first four innings, had everyone throughout their lineup reach base by the end of the fifth and starting pitcher Tyrell Jenkins ended with six solid innings on the mound.
Jenkins (2-1), who gave up just four hits and two walks, had three runs (two earned) scored against him.
“Once we got the lead, I started getting comfortable and using all my pitches,” said Jenkins, the Cardinals’ first pick in the 2010 supplemental draft. “I got into a routine and started letting my defense work a little bit.
“When they score runs like that early, it makes it easier and it relaxes me a little more. I was able to
throw off-speed more where they hit into ground balls and my defense could make the plays.”
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt liked how Jenkins kept the ball low in the game’s middle innings.
“Once Tyrell hit his groove tonight, he was lights out with three different pitches,” Shildt said. “He got the ball down a little more and had a little more life to his ball. His secondary pitches were really crisp after that.”
Johnson City made plenty of plays at the plate as well, knocking around 14 hits including seven for extra-bases. Matt Williams led the way, going 3-for-5 (all doubles) with three runs scored.
“I needed that,” said Williams, a 15th round draft pick from the Nashville area. “I had been in a small slump, but I made a couple of adjustments in batting practice to start seeing the ball better. I was seeing the ball really good tonight.”
Steven Ramos, Gary Apelian and Gary Castillo each added two hits, and every player in the Cards’ starting lineup got at least one hit.
“It was a good balanced attack and a good balanced plan,” Johnson City manager Mike Shildt said. “The guys did a good job. They put a lot of time in and they executed, slowing the game down. They made Bristol’s guys make quality throws and they put good swings on it.
The Cards struck early as Ramos’ double to lead off their efforts was rewarded later in the first inning by Apelian’s sacrifice fly.
After two Bristol runs in the top of the second, the Cardinals countered with Castillo’s RBI single to tie 2-2 in the bottom frame.
The White Sox (17-20) pulled ahead with a run in the top of the third, but Johnson City scored four runs in the bottom of the inning and never trailed again.
A two-run single by the Cardinals’ Roberto DeLaCruz highlighted the inning, and a Bristol error accounted for the other two runs.
The Cards scored another run in the sixth and two more in the eighth. Leading off the bottom of the eighth, Castillo had a triple, and then scored off an errant throw by Bristol second baseman Daurys Mercedes. Tyler Rahmatulla later provided a RBI double to round out the game’s scoring.
Bristol starter Jean Duque (2-5) suffered the loss for the White Sox, who fell seven games behind the Cardinals in the division standings.
Williams, the Cardinals’ shortstop, said his team’s everyday approach makes it difficult for other teams to keep pace.
“Our team is always well prepared, even when we lose,” Williams said. “Most of our losses are close games where we easily could have won. We just prepare really well and try to play good baseball.”
The final game in the BriSox series is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.