BLUEFIELD, Va. — It was lucky No. 7 for the Johnson City Cardinals.
The Cardinals won their second straight Appalachian League championship and seventh overall Sunday night with a 4-1 defeat of Bluefield at Bowen Field.
Their winning efforts started on the mound as Nicholas Gillung gave up just one hit, two walks and one run over six innings. He struck out six to pick up the victory, while reliever Logan Billbrough followed up with three perfect innings for the save. The Blue Jays, winners of the Eastern Division during the regular season, took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Leo Hernandez doubled on a line drive to left field which scored Art Charles.
However, the lead was short-lived as Johnson City took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth.
Neal Pritchard, who had a walk-off single in his only at-bat the night before in Johnson City, went 2-for-3 (two doubles) with two RBIs and two runs scored to lead the Cardinals’ offense. Catcher Jonathan Keener added a 3-for-4 effort, including a RBI single for the Cardinals’ first run. After Keener tied the game, Pritchard gave Johnson City the go-ahead run on a fielding error by Bluefield at the next at-bat.
Clinging to a one-run lead, the Cards added a couple of insurance runs in the eighth.
Facing two outs, Gary Apelian singled to get the action started. A wild pitch advanced him to second base and Pritchard followed with a double to center field. Roberto DeLaCruz then added his own RBI double to score Pritchard with the game’s final run.
Billbrough struck out four of the final six batters to close out the game.
Overall, it was a solid effort for the Cardinals, who outhit the Blue Jays 9-1 and played error-free defense.
Deivy Estrada suffered the loss for Bluefield after giving up four hits and two runs in five innings.