Holding a three-run lead heading into the top of the third, the Twins scored eight runs, including a grand slam by Max Smith, in a 14-4 rout of the Cardinals.
The Cardinals (32-30) now hold a half-game lead in the Appalachian League West Division standings with Bristol’s 2-1 win over Pulaski. The Twins improved to 28-32, keeping themselves in the thick of the wild-card race.
Elizabethton outhit the Cardinals 15-4 with Smith going 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, four RBIs and three runs scored. Trevor Jensen was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Parker Phillips, Ruben Santana and Janigson Villalobos each had two hits.
Will Holland accounted for two RBIs and scored twice.
On the flip side, it was a miserable performance for Johnson City starting pitcher Luis Ortiz (0-4). The right-hander’s final numbers included nine hits and nine runs counted against him. Alex Gallegos gave up the grand slam to Smith and allowed six hits over three innings.
Victor Garcia gave Johnson City its first score, a solo home run over the left-field wall in the second inning. A frame later, the Cardinals had little to cheer about — given the Twins’ massive outburst.
The Cardinals’ only other scores came from a two-run double by Todd Lott in the bottom of the fourth inning and Raffy Ozuna’s sacrifice fly to score Carlos Soler in the seventh.
Ryley Widell (2-6) earned the win with seven strikeouts while giving up three hits, two walks and three runs over six innings. It was the longest outing of the season for Widell, a seventh-round pick in the 2017 draft out of Central Arizona.
Steven Cruz hurled the final three innings, yielding one hit and an unearned run. A day after going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in a 3-2 loss at Johnson City, the Twins were 6-for-18 on Thursday.
HOME AND HOME
Johnson City begins a three-game series with Bristol with first place in the West Division on the line. Elizabethton has its final six games of the regular season at home starting with a three-game series against Danville. Friday home games for the Cardinals and the Twins have a 6:30 p.m. scheduled start.