July 16, 2008

MiLB ... JC Cards fall to Kingsport in late inning comeback

KINGSPORT, TN--The Johnson City Cardinals (R) jumped all over the Kingsport Mets at Hunter Wright Field tonight, and they did so in all of the opening innings.

As starting pitcher Reynier Gonzalez held the Mets scoreless, Curt Smith singled home Brett Lilley in the first. A few batters later, Alex Castellanos hit a two-RBI single in the first.

Up 3-0, the Mets' battery helped Johnson City score a couple more in the second, Jarred Bogany scoring on a balk, Nico Vasquez scoring on a past ball.

After a scoreless third, the Cards revved up their bats once more in the fourth, Curt Smith hitting a three-run homer to put the Cards up 8-0.

Santo Maertz relieved Gonzalez to start the fifth, giving up a couple hits with two outs before throwing a ground out to get out of a slight jam with Mets base runners on the corners.

Gonzalez worked four full innings, scattering three hits in his scoreless work. He walked two and struck out three.

Kingsport did not score in the fifth, nor did Johnson City in the top of the sixth.

Kevin Thomas came on in relief of Maertz to start the bottom of the sixth. Thomas got in a jam, the Mets securing men on the corners with one out, but pitched his way out of it to hold the Mets scoreless.

In the top of the seventh, Johnson City loaded the bases with one out for Travis Mitchell, but he hit an popup and was called out on an Infield Fly Rule. A wild pitch with Bogany at bat allowed Edgar Lara to score from third. Bogany grounded out, the Cards leaving two men on base, but picking up a run and extending their lead to 9-0.

The bottom of the seventh found Kingsport yet struggling and unable to put their first run on the board off of Thomas.

Johnson City added nothing in the top of the eighth.

Thomas continued to work into the Kingsport half of the inning, the Mets getting a runner on when a throw from shortstop Nico Vasquez got away from Curt Smith at first base. Thomas then hit the next batter, putting two on. A single loaded the bases, and the Mets once more had a chance to break up the shutout, this time with two outs. A two-run single finally put the Mets on the board, cutting the big lead a little, making it 9-2.

The Cardinals added nothing in the ninth.

Kingsport refused to go down easy in the bottom of the ninth, adding a couple runs off reliever Jose Mateo before bringing up a two out situation with men on the corners. A single to center brought in another run, cutting the lead to 9-5.

Johnson City saw fit to go to their bullpen once more, calling upon Jorge Rondon. The Mets singled again, loading the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate with two outs. Charles Doyle hit a three-RBI double to close the gap to one at 9-8. Yet another single brought home the tying run, the potential winning run now on first base. To bring the Mets ever closer to a last inning comeback win, the next hitter singled to center, moving the potential winning run into scoring position.

In a desperation effort to find a reliever to put the stop to the Mets' rally, Johnson City brought in Matthew Frevert to try to keep the game at 9-9.

To complete the Cardinals' nightmare, Kingsport's Rogelio Del Campo blasted a three-run walk-off homer to right field to give the Mets a gigantic comeback win, 12-9.

Rondon took the loss, falling to 1-2.

Plenty of offense still wasn't enough, however, but in the losing effort, the Cardinals' hitters of note were: Curt Smith, who went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs; Nico Vasquez, who went 2-for-4 with a double, and scoring three runs.