After looking shaky on the first two pitches he faced in the fifth inning, Williams belted a grand slam, helping the Johnson City Cardinals to an 8-1 victory over the Danville Braves on Sunday at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
Williams swung weakly at Jose Montilla’s first pitch, which was far inside. He then waved at an outside offering before taking a ball. Facing a 1-2 count, the Johnson City second baseman connected on a no-doubter to give his team a 7-1 lead.
“I was little too big on the first two swings,” Williams said. “I knew I had two strikes so I had so shorten it up, get it in play.”
He more than got it in play. Williams’ blast easily cleared the wall in left-center field.
“It felt good,” he said. “I think I got all of it.”
That hit, Williams’ third home run of the season, was the last pitch Montilla threw. The Cardinals got to him for 10 hits in five innings.
Nolan Gorman went 4 for 5 for the Cardinals with a three-run homer, an RBI single and a pair of doubles.
The Cards (17-20) got five hits in the third inning but all of their runs came on one swing. Gorman lined a three-run home run to left-center field. It was the eighth home run of the season for the Cardinals’ No. 1 draft pick.
Johnson City threatened after Gorman’s homer, getting two more runners on, but Danville third baseman Brett Langhorne got Montilla out of the jam with a nifty defensive play. When Williams smacked a line drive down the third base line, Langhorne knocked it down instead of catching it, calmly stepped on third and threw to second to complete an inning-ending double play.
Langhorne is a product of Carson-Newman.
BY THE NUMBERS
Kevin Woodall, Dariel Gomez and Brandon Riley scored on Williams’ grand slam. Gorman got the inning started with a leadoff double, but was thrown out at third on a ground ball.
Riley, Williams and Moises Castillo each had two of the Cards’ 13 hits. Gorman raised his batting average to .309 and upped his RBI total to 20, second on the team behind Woodall’s 25.
Cards starter Colin Schmid, who played at Appalachian State, settled down after giving up an RBI single to Justin Smith in the second inning. The lefty held the Braves to four hits in his five innings
Danville threatened again in the fourth when Langhorne led off with a double and stole third. Schmid then got two strikeouts when he needed them most. Schmid (2-0) was making his fifth start after working out of the bullpen to start the season.
Evan Sisk, Oneiver Diaz, David Oca and Parker Kelly each worked a scoreless inning of relief. The five pitchers limited Danville to five hits.
There are no Appalachian League games scheduled for Monday night.
The Cardinals play host to the first-place Elizabethton Twins on Tuesday night. It’s the start of a three-game series. The Twins swept Johnson City in a four-game series a couple of weeks ago, outscoring the Cards 45-19 in the process.
Johnson City is averaging 2,538 fans per game, second in the league to the Pulaski Yankees, who average 2,724. At the current pace, the Cards are projected to shatter their single-season attendance record for the third year in a row.