After spending most of the nightcap of Tuesday's doubleheader on the ugly end of a potential perfect game, the Kingsport Mets nearly staged a successful comeback. The K-Mets had the tying run at the plate when their 4-2 loss to the Johnson City Cardinals concluded.
Kingsport didn't even get its first base runner until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Jeyckol De Leon doubled down the left-field line. Until then, Cardinals starter Thomas Lee (2-4) had retired the first 13 men he faced. De Leon's double broke up the perfect game as well as the no-hitter.
The shutout followed in the bottom of the seventh, and De Leon was the culprit again. This time, Jorge Rivero and Gavin Cecchini set the table with singles, and De Leon brought them home on a double he lined off the outfield wall in left. That made it a 4-2 game and chased Lee from the mound in favor of Cardinals closer Ronald Shaban, who fanned Anthony Chavez and got pinch-hitter Jon Leroux to ground out to tally his 13th save of the Appalachian League season.
Johnson City got its offense by either the long ball or the unearned run. Jeremy Schaffer, who hit a towering homer to left in the opener of Tuesday's twin bill, belted another in almost the exact same spot in the second inning off Persio Reyes. Reyes (3-5) made another mistake in the sixth, and Bruce Caldwell crushed his off-speed pitch and took it over the center-field wall.
A passed ball resulted in a third-inning run being unearned, and the Cards tallied what proved to be an important insurance run in the seventh when newly entered Kingsport reliever Christian Chivilli air-mailed a throw to first base on C.J. McElroy Jr.'s squib groundball. The two-base error allowed Ronard Castillo to come around from second and score.
NOTES: The Kingsport Mets are in the midst of a brutal stretch in their schedule. They continue a four-game series with Johnson City, which is currently tied for second place in the West, on Wednesday night and Thursday. The K-Mets then hit the road for 11 straight road games in a nine-day span, beginning with a three-game set at West leader Elizabethton and continuing with five games in three nights with the Burlington Royals, the East's first-place team. Elizabethton and Burlington are, combined, 37 games over the .500 mark. ... McElroy, the son of former veteran big league pitcher Chuck McElroy, had two hits, an RBI and a stolen base out of the leadoff spot in the Johnson City lineup. ... Lee threw just 76 pitches in 6 1-3 innings. ... Reyes was also efficient, throwing 72 pitches in six innings of work. ... Kingsport had swept its other two home doubleheaders this season.