The Kingsport Mets are peaking as they prepare to play in the Appalachian League playoffs for the first time in 17 years.
Jon Leroux homered twice and Dominic Smith continued his fabulous start in a K-Met uniform, as Kingsport rallied for an 8-5 victory over the Bluefield Blue Jays on Friday night in the regular-season finale for both teams. Both squads are bound for the playoffs. Kingsport (40-27) has won more games this season than any K-Met team since that 1996 squad.
Kingsport opens the playoffs Saturday night at Greeneville in the opener of a best-of-three series to determine the West Division's representative in the Appy League title series. The remainder of that series will be played here at Hunter Wright Stadium, starting Sunday. The K-Mets haven't won the Appalachian League crown since 1995.
Leroux homered in the first and sixth innings, giving him a team-high six round trippers. Smith, the Mets' first-round pick in June's draft, had another impressive night. He doubled twice as part of a 2-for-4, two-RBI effort. All four of Smith's hits as a K-Met have been doubles. He also played in the field for the first time as an Appy Leaguer, manning first base. Smith's second double scored Champ Stuart with what proved to be the winning run.
Joe Tuschak and Yeixon Ruiz added two hits apiece for Kingsport. Tuschak's night included a lined double off the right-field wall in the seventh inning that scored a pair of insurance runs.
The K-Mets did all that damage against Justin D'Allesandro, who took the loss in relief.
Martires Arias (2-7) has struggled most of the season but got the win after going five solid innings in the starting role. Arias only really got in trouble in the third inning, when he issued back-to-back-to-back walks to start the frame. That helped Bluefield push across two runs without the benefit of a base hit.
Ruben Reyes worked the ninth for the save.
NOTES: Bluefield's Matt Dean (.338) and Kingsport's Jeff McNeil (.329) entered the game first and second in the Appalachian League in batting average. Both were held out of the lineup by their respective teams, although Dean pinch hit in the eighth. Dean also had a league-high .913 OPS. … Mitch Nay ended up winning the league RBI title, driving in 42 runs. … Bluefield and Pulaski are the East Division's representatives in the playoffs, with Pulaski the divisional champ. … K-Met infielder Pedro Perez was ejected after striking out to end the bottom of the seventh.