Jackson’s shot over right field in the eighth inning lifted the Cardinals to a 3-2 win over the Elizabethton Twins. It came one day after the Cardinals won with a ninth-inning rally in Pulaski.
More good news for the Cardinals was the announcement of a new season attendance record of 69,433 fans.
“Action” Jackson as some fans were calling the 6-foot-3 catcher from Winter Haven, Florida, saw the first pitch, a down and in fastball, against Elizabethton reliever Yancarlos Baez and sent it sailing. It was Jackson’s fifth home run of the season and it scored Liam Sabino, who had reached base on a walk.
“It was a lefty’s dream pitch,” said Jackson, a sixth-round pick in the 2017 MLB draft. “It feels really good to rally like that. This team has been able to do that all year no matter how many runs we’re down. We stay battling until the ninth inning is over.”
That never-give-up attitude helped the Cardinals (32-29) extend their lead to 1½ games over Bristol in the Appalachian League West Division standings. The Twins fell to 28-32, 3½ games behind in the division race and two games back in the wild-card chase.
It marked the 43rd day this season which the Cardinals have led the standings. Jackson, who had all three of Johnson City’s RBIs, talked about how the team has responded when challenged.
“This team is really battling and answering everyone right now,” Jackson said. “We just try to go out every bat and battle. You can be 0-for-4 and one swing can change your night.”
ON THE MOUND
Johnson City starter Hector Soto gave up five hits and two runs over five innings in a no-decision. Tyler Peck allowed up one hit and one walk over the next 2 1/3 innings. Walker Robbins (3-0), who struck out three and gave up just one hit over 1 2/3 innings, picked up the win.
Twins starter Brent Headrick threw just one inning before the ninth round pick out of Illinois State was pulled. The 6-foot-6 left hander didn’t give up any hits, but walked two.
Ryan Shreve, a right hander, threw the next 4 2/3 innings before Frandy Torres held with 1 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball. Baez (0-1) suffered the loss.
Elizabethton’s Kidany Salva sent a ball flying over right field for a solo home run in the third inning for the game’s first run. The Twins took a 2-0 lead on Seth Gray’s long sacrifice fly to center field to score Ruben Santana.
Johnson City got on the board in the sixth inning with Jackson’s sacrifice fly to left field enough to score Malcom Nunez. The Cardinals weren’t able to push across any more, trailing by one run.
The Cardinals missed a pair of opportunities in the seventh inning with Kevin Vargas on third base with one out. Mateo Gil struck out and Jhon Torres had a long flyout to the warning track in right field.
Jackson made sure the next opportunity wasn’t wasted. Elizabethton was inefficient, going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and leaving nine stranded on base.
Elizabethton designated hitter Anthony Prato, a seventh-round pick out of UConn, led the Twins, going 3-for-5 with a double. Johnson City’s six hits were spread out with six different batters.
The teams are scheduled to play again Thursday at 6:30 p.m. It’s “Thirsty Thursday” with $1, $2 and $3 beer specials and $1 for Pepsi products.