Greeneville executed its plan perfectly Friday night, thanks to some timely big plays from Kyle Tucker.
"We were trying to just get ahead early and try and put the game away as fast as we could," Tucker said.
The Astros' No. 4 prospect was instrumental in carrying out that approach as he went 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs as Greeneville secured a 6-2 victory over Kingsport, evening the best-of-3 Appalachian League semifinals at 1-1.
The Astros took the lead in the second inning on a two-run blast by third baseman Randy Cesar. In the bottom of the frame, Tucker stifled an opportunity for the Mets to respond by nailing Patrick Mazeika at the plate as he tried to score on Luis Ortega's single.
MLB.com's No. 60 overall prospect padded Greeneville's lead in the third with an RBI single to center.
Kingsport cut the deficit to 3-2 heading to the sixth, but Tucker crushed a solo homer over the right field wall off Mets ace Nabil Crismatt (0-1).
"They got me a little bit out in front in my first two at-bats, so I was just trying to sit on something off-speed," the 18-year-old said. "I got something I could control a little bit. You know, 3-2, at that point putting us up two runs was a big spot for us."
Tucker helped add another insurance run in the eighth when he singled, stole second and scored on Connor Goedert's base hit to right.
Righty Diogenes Almengo (1-0) protected the lead, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts over five innings. Edgardo Sandoval held the Mets scoreless over the final four frames, yielding two hits, en route to the save.
With a win under their belts, Tucker said confidence remains high going into the series finale on Saturday at Pioneer Park.
"We had nothing to lose tonight," Tucker said. "We were just trying to get up early and stay ahead. We were able to do that tonight, and we're just trying to do that through the rest of the playoffs."
In other playoff action:
Princeton 3, Pulaski 2
The Rays overcame six strong innings from Yankees starter Nestor Cortes, erasing a 2-1 deficit to even the series at one win apiece. David Rodriguez tied the game in the eighth with an opposite-field RBI double off Cody Hamlin (0-1) and Blair Beck plated the go-ahead run with his second sacrifice fly of the night. The rally made a winner of Eduar Lopez (1-0), who allowed one hit over four innings of scoreless relief. Pulaski hosts decisive Game 3 on Saturday. Box score