It has been an eventful last eight days for the Cardinals, who have set two home attendance records and then got the news Monday evening their home field was again named Best of the Rookie League Ballpark by a Ballpark Digest fan vote.
"What an honor; I'm speechless honestly," Cardinals general manager Zac Clark said. "The community just continues to support us and we just want to give back to them as much as we can and to say thank you to them. Our staff has done wonders with this place, and I'm just blown away."
TVA Credit Union Ballpark received 58 percent of the fans' tally to 42 percent for the Pioneer League Suplizio Field, home of the Grand Junction (Colo.) Rockies. Over 416,000 fans participated in the 2018 Best of the Ballpark fan vote for Major League, Minor League, independent and summer collegiate facilities.
"This is the first time a rookie-level ballpark has repeated in the fan vote," Ballpark Digest publisher Kevin Reichard said on his company's website. "TVA Credit Union Ballpark is certainly one of the great ballparks of the minors, combining a scenic locale with great management from Boyd Sports, and fans respond to the emphasis on great family entertainment."
While the Cardinals have put a product on the field that has produced four championships this decade, including 2014 and 2016, Clark said the emphasis was more about creating an atmosphere for the fans to enjoy regardless of the game result.
"That's the primary thing we focused on when we started in 2014, what could we do to reinvigorate this place?" Clark said. "It was all about the atmosphere. It has finally caught on with the community and taken off. The support we've gotten from them has shown we're headed the right direction."
ON THE FIELD
Johnson City closer Colin Schmid came in with a two-run lead and runners on first and third in the ninth inning.
After Schmid gave up a walk to lead the bases, Pulaski's Mickey Gasper grounded into a double play, which scored Ezequiel Duran and moved the tying run to third.
But, Schmid struck out Juan De Leon on the next at-bat as the Cardinals held on and evened their record at 9-9.
Pulaski (8-12) got on the scoreboard first with a two-run home run by DeLeon in the top of the second inning. Johnson City responded in the bottom frame with a two-run home run by Kevin Woodall Jr., which also scored Nolan Gorman to tie the game.
The Cardinals pulled ahead 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth. Jonatan Machado doubled to score Woodall, and Donivan Williams hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Michael Perri.
It remained that way until the end as Juan Alvarez (1-0) and Schmid got his first save of the season.
Woodall and Machado each went 2-for-4 to lead the Cardinals at the plate.
The Cardinals will look to break another attendance record when they host rival Elizabethton on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Pulaski will return home to entertain Bristol.