KINGSPORT, Tenn.-Jose Maria's three-hit day propelled the Kingsport Mets to its fourth-consecutive victory as the first baseman's RBI double in the bottom of the 10th inning walked it off as the K-Mets took down the Bristol Pirates 2-1 Wednesday night at Hunter Wright Stadium.
Tied at 1-1, Jeremy Wolf reached third base to begin the bottom of the 10th inning thanks to a three-base throwing error from Bristol's third baseman, Julio De La Cruz. The groundball off the bat of Wolf chopped to the third baseman, who was playing about even with the bag, but the throw to first base was well to the left of the bag as it travelled all the way into foul territory up the right field line.
Wolf took second base on the miscue easily and then started to head for third base. Raul Siri, the Pirates second baseman, finally tracked down the ball and threw a strike to third base. A controversy safe call was made on the play as Wolf slid in the back door side from left field to avoid the tag from Juilio De La Cruz who began the play with the errant thrown.
Now at third base with no outs, Wolf turned to Jose Miguel Medina to bring him in for the winning run of the contest, however, Medina stuck out on a 2-2 offering from Nick Hutchings (0-4) for the first out of the inning.
Maria then stepped to the plate and came through for the home team with the winning-double that was belted off the bat to the wall in right-center field for the win. The drive brought in Wolf from third base and the celebration began as teammates began mobbing Maria after Wolf stepped on home plate.
Maria's game-winning double was the third hit of the day for the slugger.
With the win, Kingsport (26-41) not only secured its third wining series in-a-row to end the season, but it also clinched at least a share of fourth-place in the Appalachian League West with the season-finale being played Thursday night. If the K-Mets top of the Pirates (25-42) in the series-finale, Kingsport will end the season outright with a fourth-place finish.
As of now, thanks to the walk-off win, Kingsport jumps Bristol into that fourth-slot in the standings as the squad has won seven out of their last 10 ballgames.
Prior to the Gatorade bath being dumped all over the back of Maria following the walk-off hit, both Kingsport and Bristol tallied a run apiece in the second inning.
The Pirates jumped on the scoreboard first following an RBI double off the bat of Hauscar Fuentas in the top of the second. Kingsport immediately answered in the bottom of the frame when Maria slashed his third home run of the season over the left field wall in the bottom of the inning.
The 1-1 score would remain the same through nine complete innings and into the 10th when Maria came through again for his club.
The contest that went into extra innings beat the average time of a Kingsport Mets baseball game by about 20 minutes as both starting pitchers brought their best to the mound in their final starts of the season.
Kingsport's Adonis Uceta tossed eight innings of six-hit baseball, surrendering only one run while tallying eight punch outs. Bristol's ace on the mound, Matt Eckelman, pitched a gem of his own after throwing six innings of one-run baseball as well. The right-hander surrendered only five hits while recording five strikeouts in the start before being lifted prior to the start of the seventh inning.
Hutchings took the loss on the night for Bristol, though the winning run was unearned. The three-base throwing error from Julio De La Cruz allowed Wolf to reach third base to begin the inning. Wolf later crossed home plate on the winning-hit from Maria in the bottom of the 10th frame.
Gregorix Esteves (1-1) picked up the win after pitching a scoreless top of the 10th inning. The right-hander originally had two men in scoring position with only one away in the inning before belting down to retire the side with a groundball and a strikeout.
Maria was the obvious hero for the K-Mets on the night as the first baseman accounted for the two RBIs in the game. Maria concluded the day 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run and a double. Raphael Ramirez, Reed Gamache and Jose Miguel Medina accounted for the other three hits on the night for the home team.
Seven different players for Bristol broke into the hit column on the night with Fuentas driving in the lone run.
Game 3 of the series, and the season-finale, will take place Thursday night at 6:45 p.m. The contest will also serve as Fan Appreciation Night as spectators to the contest will receive free admission along with Dollar Thursday prices on beer sales and certain concession stand items. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. with first pitch following shortly after at 6:00 p.m.