Kingsport, TN - The Greeneville Astros traveled to Kingsport on Monday night to battle the Mets at Hunter Wright Stadium in game two of the West Division Appalachian League semifinals and rolled to a 7-2 win. With the best-of-three series now even at 1-1, it all comes down to a single game to determine who advances to host game one of the Appalachian League Championship Series against the East Division-winning Pulaski Mariners.
After the first two innings on Monday, there was no score and the Astros had yet to have a base runner. Then, in the top of the third inning, the Astros broke out in a big way. With Ariel Ovando leading off, he connected on a high fly ball that sailed over the right field wall for a solo home run to get things started.
Thomas Lindauer immediately followed Ovando with a line drive double, one of his three hits on the night to go along with some good defense at shortstop. Then, after Brett Phillips got a bunt single and moved Lindauer to third, Tanner Mathis doubled on a ground ball to right field to bring in a run and leave runners at second and third. Consecutive sacrifice flies by Juan Santana and Edwin Gomez brought in both runners and gave the Astros a four-run inning to take control of the game.
In the fifth inning, each team exchanged a score in the form of a solo homerun. In the top of the fifth, the Astros' recently announced team MVP, Tanner Mathis, hit his second homer of the season on a fly ball that cleared the right field fence just under the Hunter Wright Stadium scoreboard. Then the Mets' Yeixon Ruiz, an Appalachian League All-Star selection, drove his first homer of the year to left field and cut the Astros' lead to 5-1.
Building off of Ruiz's big swing, the Mets came back with another score in the sixth inning. This time, it was Jeyckol De Leon who led off with a home run and brought the Mets within three runs of the Astros.
After a scoreless seventh inning, the Astros erased the Mets two previous runs by adding a score apiece in both the eighth and ninth innings. After Chase McDonald got on with a walk to lead off the eighth, he made his way around to third and scored on an Ariel Ovando sacrifice fly.
In the ninth, Tanner Mathis got on base after being hit by a pitch and moved Brett Phillips over to second. Then, after the Mets got a force out on Phillips at third on a Juan Santana ground ball, they made an error on a throw to first trying to get Santana out and the ball sailed into foul territory to allow Mathis to score all the way from first.
Astros' reliever Gerardo Ramirez entered the game in the bottom of the ninth and finished off the Mets with a 1-2-3 inning to get the Astros their first win in the playoffs since 2004. With seven runs, the Astros also set a new club record for a playoff game.
Prior to Ramirez closing the game, the Astros had strong outings from left-handed starter Christopher Lee and right-hander Austin Chrismon. Lee earned the win after pitching the first five innings and giving up one run on five hits with four strikeouts. Then, Chrismon followed with three innings of work and gave up one run on three hits with five strikeouts.
The Astros will return to Kingsport on Tuesday for the deciding game three of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00pm. The Astros will have right-hander Frederick Tiburcio (3-2) on the mound while the Mets are set to have the right-handed Robert Whalen (3-2).
For more information on the Greeneville Astros, please visit www.greenevilleastros.com or call (423) 638-0411.