The Bristol Pirates moved into sole possession of first place in the Appalachian League West Division with a 10-8 victory over the Johnson City Cardinals on Sunday night.The Pirates now hold a 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals and the Mets who are tied for second place and they hold
The Bristol Pirates moved into sole possession of first place in the Appalachian League West Division with a 10-8 victory over the Johnson City Cardinals on Sunday night.
The Pirates now hold a 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals and the Mets who are tied for second place and they hold a two-game lead over the Twins with three games remaining in the regular season. Along with the push for a playoff berth, the Pirates are now one win away from clinching their first winning season since 2008.
Johnson City jumped out to an early lead against starter Adrian Florencio, as the Cardinals hit two home runs in the bottom of the first before a two-run single in the bottom of the second would have the Pirates trailing 4-0. With two outs in the top of the third inning and runners on first and second, third baseman Jesus Valdez singled to center to drive in catcher Eli Wilson, and right fielder Daniel Rivero would come home to score as well after a throwing error on the play. Designated hitter Aaron Shackelford singled to left to drive in Valdez, and two batters later shortstop Francisco Acuna hit a two-run double to left to put the Pirates ahead 5-4.
The Pirates extended their lead in the top of the fourth on a single by Valdez and a two-run double by Shackelford, but a three-run sixth inning by the Cardinals would make it an 8-7 game, and in the bottom of the seventh Johnson City tied the game on a home run by designated hitter Todd Lott.
With runners on first and third and one out in the top of the eighth, Josh Bissonette entered the game as a pinch-hitter and hit a bunt single to the pitcher that allowed Wilson to score from third and put the Pirates back in the lead. Valdez hit a sacrifice fly to make it a 10-8 game, and after the Pirates were retired in order in the top of the ninth Samson Abernathy took to the mound to close out the series finale. With runners on first and second and the potential winning run at the plate for Johnson City, Abernathy was able to induce a game-ending double play to move the Pirates into first place in the division.
Valdez and Shackelford led the Pirates with three RBI each, as Valdez went 3-for-4 with two runs scored while Shackelford finished 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored. Acuna's two-run double was his Appalachian League-leading 20th of the season, as he became just the ninth Bristol player since 1969 to hit 20 doubles in a season and the first to accomplish the feat since Carlos Munoz hit 21 in 2015.
Yordi Rosario earned the win and improved to 3-0 on the year after allowing one run on two hits over 2 1/3 innings with four strikeouts. Florencio allowed four runs over three innings with four strikeouts, while Enrique Santana allowed one hit and struck out four batters over two scoreless innings of relief. Abernathy earned his seventh save of the year after allowing just two hits over one inning pitched, and he is currently second in the Appalachian League in saves.
The Pirates (33-31) return to Bristol on Monday night to open up a three-game set against the Danville Braves in the final series of the regular season. Santiago Florez will start for Bristol in the series opener as he comes off his second win of the year in which he tossed six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts against Bluefield.