For the third time this week, the Cards fought off the season’s end with a 7-4 win over the Bristol Pirates on Saturday evening at TVA Credit Union Ballpark in the Appalachian League’s West Division playoffs.
The outcome evened the best-of-three series at a game apiece.
Offensive highlights for JC included Todd Lott’s two-run, first-inning single and solo home runs from Jhon Torres and Chandler Redmond.
Lott also doubled in the game, leaving him with two of the Cards’ 10 hits. He and Torres each produced two RBIs.
The first three batters of the game reached for the Cardinals on two singles and a fielder’s choice. Lott brought them home with one out on a 3-1 count with his single.
The Bristol pitching settled in after the first inning as Dante Mendoza didn’t allow a run over the next three frames.
BRISTOL PLAYS CATCH UP
In the fourth, the Pirates needed some offense as Johnson City starter Francisco Justo was rolling, retiring seven of the first nine batters he faced.
However, the second time through the order was what hurt Justo the most.
Josh Bissonette led off the top of the fourth inning with a double off the wall, then Aaron Shackleford drove him in with a triple to almost the same spot.
Two batters later, Matt Morrow sacrificed and brought in the tying run.
JOHNSON CITY RESPONDS
Bristol brought in Ryan Troutman to start the fifth and it did not begin well for him. On a 3-2 count, Troutman — who had a 5.87 ERA coming into the game — gave up a solo homer to Torres, giving the lead back to the Cards.
In the sixth, Redmond hit a solo bomb over the left-center field wall on the first pitch he saw from Troutman — and the Cards again had a two-run lead.
The Johnson City bullpen — which has been shaky at times this season — came in and performed well in a “win or go home” situation.
Will Guay got the win by going 1⅔ innings in relief of Justo and striking out four. Guay didn’t allow a hit on his watch.
Dylan Pearce came in and shut the door with two outs in the ninth after John Witkowski had gotten himself into a sticky situation: runners on the corners and the tying run at the plate with two outs.
Pearce threw four pitches and managed to get Shackleford to hit a slow roller back to the mound for the easy put-out at first base.
The third and final game of the West playoffs will be Sunday afternoon at TVA Credit Union Ballpark. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.