It's not quite Christmas in July, but the Kingsport Mets definitely were in a giving mood on Sunday night. The K-Mets committed six errors, and surrendered three unearned runs as a result, during the rubber game of their Appalachian League series at Hunter Wright Stadium. The defensive gaffes helped Danville seize a 5-2 lead, and although the K-Mets rallied to force extra innings, the Braves prevailed in 13 innings, winning by a 6-5 margin.
It definitely was not the way Kingsport wants to head into its final scheduled off day of the season, before opening a four-game, three-night series with Johnson City on Tuesday that marks the K-Mets' penultimate homestand of the 2012 Appy campaign.
The K-Mets middle infielders had a rough night. Shortstop Anthony Chavez and second baseman Branden Kaupe each committed two errors. Chavez's first miscue came on a two-error play in the first inning that helped Danville score two runs. Chavez misplayed a groundball up the middle for a two-base gaffe, and an ensuing throwing error by Maikis De La Cruz in center field allowed the second run across the plate.
Kingsport got back into the game with a nice rally in the bottom of the seventh. Gavin Cecchini loomed large in the comeback, connecting on a bases-loaded single to make it a 5-4 game before a sacrifice fly by Jorge Rivero tied the score at 5-all.
That's where the game remained deadlocked until the 13th inning, when Logan Russell coaxed a leadoff walk, reached second on a sacrifice bunt and came home on Levi Hyams' line-drive single.
The K-Mets were retired in order in the bottom half, finally ending a marathon game that went more than four hours.
Rafael Briceno (3-1) picked up the win in relief, working the final three innings of the game. Kingsport's Rafael Estevez (0-2), who came in to start the 12th frame, took the loss.
Despite the errors, Kingsport had a golden opportunity to win the game on a walk-off in the ninth. The K-Mets loaded the bases and Jeyckol De Leon drew a 3-0 count from Danville reliever Bryam Garcia before striking out to send the contest into extras.
One bright spot for Kingsport in defeat was the pitching performance of Akeel Morris. The former opening-night starter made his third straight appearance out of the bullpen and went five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks while tallying nine strikeouts.
NOTES: Cecchini, the Mets' first-round draft pick, was in the lineup for the first time since he broke the tip of a finger when hit by a pitch during an Aug. 1 game at Greeneville. Cecchini was the designated hitter, and tallied three singles. ... A short bench forced K-Mets manager Jose Leger to get creative when substituting. Two of the Mets' relief pitchers, Edioglio Villasmil and Flabio Ortega, came on as pinch runners in the late innings with Kingsport running low on healthy position players. ... Danville manager Jonathan Schuerholz was ejected in the bottom of the ninth for arguing balls and strikes. ... It was a rough Sunday for Braves outfielder Edison Sanchez, who went hitless in seven at-bats and struck out five times.