The Johnson City Cardinals plated six runs in the bottom of the fourth to power their way to a 11-4 victory over the Elizabethton Twins in a rare 11:30 a.m. contest staged in front of a raucous crowd of students who were on hand for Education Day. The win allowed Johnson City to salvage a split in a four-game series against the Appalachian League West Division leading Twins.
The Cards (28-24) were trailing Elizabethton (31-22) 3-1 entering the bottom of the fourth, but that quickly changed. Twins starter Edwar Colina retired the first two batters he faced in the inning before running into trouble. Johnson City loaded the bases with two outs, which spelled the end of the day for Colina.
Juan Gamez came on in relief and promptly walked the first three batters he faced, which put the Cards ahead 4-3. Julio Rodriguez then cleared the bases with a three-run double to put the Cards ahead 7-3.
The Twins got off to a fast start by plating a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. After putting their first two runners on base, Jose Miranda got Elizabethton on the board with an RBI groundout, and a wild pitch by Johnson City starter Jacob Schlesener put the Twins up 2-0.
As a steady rain settled over the ballpark in the third inning, Johnson City finally answered with a solo homer by Brady Whalen, his sixth of the year. But the Twins plated a run of their own in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Jorge Munoz to reinstate their two-run cushion before the Cards took the upper hand in the bottom half of the inning.
Schlesener (2-1) survived his sluggish start to pick up the win. He allowed four runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings of work. He struck out six batters and issued three walks.
Johnson City kept adding to their lead in the later innings. The Cards scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth on a two-run single by Luis Bandes and an RBI single by Imeldo Diaz, which put Johnson City up 10-4. Rodriguez hit his fourth homer of the season in the bottom of the eighth to provide the final margin.
Rodriguez finished with two hits and four RBIs for Johnson City while Bandes had two hits and also drove in a pair of runs.
Munoz finished with two hits to lead the Twins.
Both teams will enjoy one final day off on Wednesday before starting a two-week sprint to the end of the regular season.