The Kingsport Mets won't be represented in the Appalachian League playoffs when they begin at the end of August. However, Kingsport still can have its say on which teams end up reaching the postseason. The K-Mets threw a monkey wrench into the Johnson City Cardinals' potential playoff plans, tallying a 4-2 victory on Tuesday in the opener of a doubleheader at Hunter Wright Stadium.
Johnson City, which has won the past two league titles, entered Tuesday with a half-game lead over the Greeneville Astros in the battle for the second and final West Division spot in the four-team postseason.
The Cardinals took an early lead on a towering home run by Jeremy Schaffer and a bases-loaded walk during the second inning, but Kingsport grabbed the advantage by hanging a three-spot on the visitors in the third inning. Yeixon Ruiz struck the big blow with two men on and none out, slapping a double into the left-center gap. When Johnson City center fielder C.J. McElroy Jr. failed to field it cleanly, it allowed a second run to score and Ruiz slid into third. Ruiz later scored on Jorge Rivero's single, and that would prove to be all the offense Kingsport would need.
The K-Mets did tack on an insurance run in the fifth, courtesy of a sacrifice fly by Rivero to plate Ruiz for the second time in the game.
Matt Budgell (1-1) picked up his first professional win in relief after replacing starter Andrew Massie, who had another shaky outing. Budgell worked the final three innings, holding the Cards scoreless and allowing one hit without a walk.
NOTES: Massie, counting the blast by Schaffer, has allowed six home runs in 20 1/3 total innings of work for Kingsport. ... K-Mets outfielder Jeffrey Diehl left the game after getting hit by a pitch that apeared to strike him on the heel or Achilles tendon area. He was replaced in the lineup by Joe Tuschak, and Rivero moved from left field to right in the defensive alignment. ... Stalyn Lopez (3-3) took the loss for the Cardinals.