The Kingsport Mets came into Wednesday night in dire need of a win.
They got it, in what was the wildest game played this season at Hunter Wright Stadium.
Ultimately, the K-Mets walked off with a 7-6 win over the Princeton Rays, avoiding getting swept by the last-place team in the East Division. A sacrifice fly by Jeff Diehl scored Yeixon Ruiz from third with the decisive run in a contest that featured 23 hits and nine errors combined by the two squads.
The win keeps Kingsport 2 ½ games ahead of Johnson City for second place in the Appalachian League's West Division. The K-Mets (30-22) also gained a game on first-place Greeneville and trail the Astros by 2 ½. With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, Kingsport is in line to make the postseason for the first time since 1996.
All seven of Kingsport's runs were unearned thanks to a slew of errors by the Rays. Princeton committed six miscues in the field as a team.
Offensively, four players had two hits each for the K-Mets: Ruiz, Jeff McNeil, Jeyckol De Leon and Amed Rosario. McNeil, Diehl, Pedro Perez and Adrian Abreu each drove in a run for Kingsport.
Princeton jumped on top 1-0 early, and was leading by a 3-1 margin when things got a little crazy in the fifth inning. Kingsport plated five unearned runs on two hits and a trio of Princeton errors. The last run proved pivotal. Jeff McNeil was on first base and Yeizon Ruiz was on third when newly entered Rays reliever Oscar Armenta made a pickoff throw to first. McNeil had a lead off the bag at the time. When Armenta turned to throw, Ruiz broke for home, and McNeil coaxed a rundown to let his teammate cross the plate. Then, McNeil ended up safe at second base thanks to a throwing error by Princeton.
The Rays tied the game at 6-all thanks to a two-run home run by Hunter Lockwood in the seventh inning, and a run-scoring throwing error in the eighth.
Kingsport reliever Robert Coles (2-1) pitched his way out of trouble in the ninth, working around a single and a double, issuing an intentional walk to load the bases and then getting out of the jam on a fielder's choice groundout and a pop fly.
That set the stage for the bottom half of the ninth. Ruiz led off with a single, reached second on a sac bunt by McNeil, made it to third on another sacrifice and scored on Diehl's routine fly to the outfield.
NOTES: Kingsport opens a three-game series against the Bristol Sox on Thursday, as part of a season-long nine-night homestand at Hunter Wright Stadium. … Chris Flexen started and logged a no-decision for Kingsport, allowing three runs-two earned-on seven hits and six strikeouts over five innings of work. … Carlos Gomez was the first man out of the bullpen for the K-Mets, making his first appearance since July 7.