Jackson, Sommers lead Cardinals over Royals

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Aug 7, 2019 at 9:29 PM

Zach Jackson flipped the script with his grand slam and Jake Sommers threw eight solid innings as the Johnson City Cardinals ended a two-game slide Wednesday night.

Jackson’s shot gave the Cardinals all the offense they needed in a 4-1 victory over the Burlington Royals at TVA Credit Union Ballpark. The big shot off Royals’ reliever Wilmer Jimenez came after Burlington starter Malcolm Van Buren had no-hit the Cardinals over the first five innings.

With the bases loaded and trailing 1-0, Jackson looked for the perfect opportunity to crush the ball. He did it on a 2-2 count, also scoring William Jimenez, Chandler Redmond and Todd Lott on his fourth home run of the season.

“I was looking for something up in the zone to get out in the outfield,” said Jackson, a sixth-round pick out in the 2017 draft out of Winter Haven, Fla. “He threw that curveball left it up and I was able to get it out of the park. I didn’t know if it was going out, but the wind was blowing a little bit and it helped me out.”

Sommers (2-2) earned the win, throwing eight strikeouts and giving up just three hits and one run over eight innings. Makiel Garcia’s solo home run in the first inning did little to rattle Sommers, a 6-foot-2 right hander and 10th round draft pick out of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Sommers was a closer in college, going no more than 2-3 innings. He only started pitching his senior year of high school, playing shortstop most of his high school career. He was humble about Wednesday’s outing.

“I was just throwing all my pitches for strikes and the defense was making some awesome plays,” Sommers said. “They made some really good plays and helped me out. It was a good team win.”

John Witkowski came to close out the ninth and get his first save of the season.

Johnson City (26-21) maintained the top spot in the Appalachian League West Division standings after losing its last two games by a combined 23-1 score.

“After the last couple of nights, we were trying to keep our heads up,” Jackson said. “We wanted to get a game back. They also say this league is about (player) development, but winning is fun. When you are winning, you’re having fun.”

Burlington (27-21) didn’t have as much fun, but leads Bluefield by 2½ games in the East Division wild-card race.

Jimenez (0-1) was tagged with the loss after giving up four hits and four runs over two innings.

The Cardinals had five hits overall, with Lott going 2-for-4, their only player with multiple hits. Jackson reached base twice, while Garcia had two of the Royals’ three hits.


Johnson City hosts Elizabethton on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. It begins a three-game series with the Cardinals at home the first game before the series shifts to Elizabethton on Friday and Saturday.

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