Mets Fall to Johnson City in Season Opener
A quadruple-digit crowd came out to a revitalized and refurbished Hunter Wright Stadium to watch the Kingsport Mets' opener, but the Johnson City Cardinals spoiled the K-Mets' 2013 Appalachian League debut, tallying a 9-3 victory Thursday night in the mutual season opener for both teams. It was the first game at Hunter Wright since the New York Mets organization took over operations of the Kingsport affiliate.
The Cardinals' Brett Wiley finished a triple shy of the cycle, blasting a three-run home run in the fourth inning and reaching base safely in four of five plate appearances. He totaled four RBIs. Jeff Diehl and Michael Bernal were Kingsport's top hitter. Diehl went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Bernal doubled twice.
The Kingsport Mets struck first, notching their initial run of the season in the bottom of the first inning when a hard-hit single to third base by Diehl scored Jeff McNeil.
The Cardinals answered in a big way in their subsequent at-bat, chasing starter Martires Arias after 1 2/3 innings of work after he allowed five runs on five hits, three walks and an error.
Kingsport answered with a run apiece in the next two innings, though the Mets stranded three runners in scoring position over that span. Hopes of a comeback were dealt a serious blow when Wiley took Edioglis Villamsil's offering over the right-field wall in the fourth.
Meanwhile, some strong relief pitching was flummoxing the Kingsport lineup. Anderson Gerdel, the first man out of the bullpen, got the win after going 2-2-3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out two without issuing a walk. Steve Sabatino followed with two scoreless frames.
These two teams are back at it Friday night, in the middle leg of a three-game series. First pitch is at 7 p.m.
NOTES: Jeff Wilpon, the COO of the Mets, attended the game. In an on-field ceremony prior to first pitch, Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips gave Wilpon a key to the city. … Curiously, Kingsport never was retired in order, while the Cardinals were set down 1-2-3 on three separate occasions. … Seven of the nine hitters in the Kingsport lineup saw time here last season, including Yeixon Ruiz, Diehl, Jeyckol De Leon, Bernal, Pedro Perez, Joe Tuschak and Bradley Marquez. Arias, Villasmil and Andres Perez - three of the four K-Met pitchers to see the mound - also played on the 2012 Kingsport team.