Diehl Homers in Series Finale Loss
By the time Saturday's Appalachian League game at Hunter Wright Stadium concluded, a full moon hung over Kingsport. Perhaps that was the source of the bad mojo that plagued the Kingsport Mets throughout the evening.
The K-Mets dropped an 8-1 decision to Johnson City, as the Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of the mutual season-opening series. Kingsport endured a rough night in the field, committing five errors-equaling their combined total of runs and hits (4).
Kingsport starter Yoan Gonzalez (0-1) took the loss despite looking sharp for the majority of his four innings. Gonzalez no-hit the Cardinals through 3 1-3 and had faced two batters over the minimum when Justin Ringo broke through with a line-drive single to right field. Ringo's base knock was the first of three straight Johnson City hits, the last a double lined into the left field corner by Kyle Greishaber to make it a 2-0 game. Gonzalez threw 28 pitches in the fourth inning, and 30 in the first three combined.
Kingsport's lone run came with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, when Jeff Diehl blasted a solo home run over the wall in left field. It marked the first run for Kingsport since the third inning of Thursday's season opener, and snapped a scoreless drought of more than 20 innings. Diehl had two hits.
Johnson City broke open the game in the seventh, with four straight men reaching base to begin the inning. One run had come home and the bases were loaded with one out when K-Mets reliever Andrew Massie was chased from the game. The Cards finished with four runs in the frame, all earned and all attributed to Massie.
Nick Lomascolo (1-0) was outstanding as the first man out of the Johnson City bullpen. The Diehl homer was his only mistake. He provided three innings of relief work behind starter Jacob Booden, who went four scoreless with three hits and a walk against four strikeouts.
NOTES: K-Mets held the opposition scoreless in the second inning for the first time this season. Johnson City had scored nine runs combined in that frame in the previous two games. … Kingsport outfielder Joe Tuschak made a spectacular defensive play in left, robbing Rowan Wick of an extra-base hit with an over-the-shoulder running catch. … Champ Stuart made his professional debut as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. Stuart was the Mets' sixth-round pick in the draft earlier this month. … Kingsport plays the next six away from home, starting Sunday as a three-game set begins in Bristol against the White Sox.