Just eight games into the Appalachian League season, the K-Mets are making it a habit to score a lot of runs in one inning to break open a close contest and take a win.
Such was the case Thursday, when the K-Mets scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to take a 7-3 victory over the Johnson City Cardinals at Hunter Wright Stadium.
Kingsport Manager Sean Ratliff said one big inning is fine with him.
“That was a close one,” Ratliff said.
He said both starting pitchers — Jose Butto for the K-Mets and Dionis Zamora for the Cardinals — threw well and kept the hitters off stride.
“Zamora did a good job keeping us off balance and mixing his speeds. We had to grind that one out for a while,” said Ratliff. “It’s not always going to be 15 hits, 16 hits. We’re not always going to drive doubles in the gaps all over the way and score our runs that way.”
The K-Mets finished the game with seven hits, four of them coming in the bottom of the seventh inning.
After Domingo Martinez led off the inning being hit by a pitch, Kenny Hernandez and Guillermo Granadillo each singled to load the bases.
Hayden Senger then delivered a three-run double.
Senger and Ranfy Adon also scored for Kingsport in the inning — Senger on a balk by Cardinals pitcher Parker Kelly and Adon on a sacrifice fly from Shervyen Newton.
Newton’s RBI was his second of the game. He also had a solo home run for the K-Mets (7-1) in the bottom of the first.
The seventh made all the difference in the Kingsport win.
“That’s what can happen when you face these teams,” said Johnson City manager Roberto Espinoza. “They take one inning and put in good at bats and that’s what happens.”
CARDINALS STILL BATTLE
Despite Kingsport’s big inning, the Cardinals (3-4) continued to battle in the eighth and ninth innings.
Down 7-1, Johnson City scored two runs in the top of the ninth.
“That’s what we’ve been doing. We’re going to battle and we’re going to compete every game,” said Espinoza.
The two runs for Johnson City came on an odd play.
With the bases loaded, Luis Flores hit a fly ball to left field.
The K-Mets’ Granadillo made a diving attempt for the ball. The umpire ruled the fielder made the catch and then lost the ball in the transfer from his glove.
Johnson City’s Zach Jackson tagged at third, as did Brian Sanchez at second.
Sanchez scored all the way from second after the K-Mets thought the ball in the outfield had been ruled a no-catch by Granadillo.
Flores was credited with a rare two-RBI sacrifice fly.
ON THE MOUND
Kingsport’s Ivan Jean (2-0) picked up the mound win in relief of Butto.
Jean threw one and one-third innings, giving up no runs on no hits with one strikeout and no walks.
Johnson City’s Zamora (0-1) took the loss. He tossed five and one-third innings, giving up two runs on three hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
The two teams are scheduled to play game two of the three-game series Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Hunter Wright Stadium.