Bristol, VA - The Greeneville Astros (29-15) trailed the Bristol Sox (13-32) through five innings on Tuesday night at Boyce Cox Field before catcher Brian Holberton made his mark on the game and led the Astros back to an eventual 2-1 win. Combined with the Kingsport Mets' loss to the Pulaski Mariners, the Astros now hold a four-game lead in the Appalachian League West Division. Meanwhile, the Sox remain in fifth place.
The game started out looking good for the Sox. After walking Astros leadoff man Marc Wik in the first inning, the Sox turned a double play and starting pitcher Tyler Barnette never allowed another base runner. In his five innings on the mound, Barnette faced the minimum as he had a no-hitter going at the time of his departure and Bristol was holding a 1-0 lead on a first inning RBI single by Patrick Palmeiro.
In the sixth inning, the Astros' first hit of the night came on a leadoff homer from Brian Holberton to right field. It was his third homer of the year and it tied the game at 1-1.
After a scoreless seventh inning, Holberton once again was batting leadoff for the Astros in the eighth inning. This time, he dropped a deeply hit ball just inside the left field line for a double. Then, with Tanner Mathis showing bunt, Holberton stole third. Finally, on a wild pitch, the University of North Carolina product headed home for the go-ahead score.
In addition to Brian Holberton's hitting, the Astros also got good pitching from his college teammate, Chris Munnelly. After starter Edison Frias departed the game with eight strikeouts over five innings of work and one earned run on five hits, Munnelly pitched two hitless innings, struck out four and picked up the win (2-0).
With the Astros holding the lead, Raul Rivera pitched a hitless eighth inning with two strikeouts. Then, Gonzalo Sanudo closed the game with a hitless ninth inning and two strikeouts. It was Sanudo's ninth save of the year, which is the second most in the Appalachian League. Furthermore, Sanudo has eight of those saves over his last nine appearances. In that span, he has pitched ten innings and given up no hits, walks or runs while striking out 12 batters.
The Astros will travel to Bristol to take on the White Sox in game two of the road series on Wednesday and game three on Thursday. On Friday, the Astros will return home for a crucial three-game series with the Kingsport Mets to conclude their 11-game season series with each other. For more information on the Greeneville Astros, please visit www.greenevilleastros.com or call (423) 638-0411.