Greeneville, TN - The Greeneville Astros (30-34) will not have the opportunity to repeat as Appalachian League champions after being eliminated from postseason contention with an 8-7 loss to the Elizabethton Twins (36-28). Coincidentally, the Twins have now clinched a playoff berth and join the Johnson City Cardinals (37-27) as the two qualifying teams from the Appalachian League West Division.
Astros' first-rounder Forrest Whitley took the mound and got his team off to a great start by striking out the first two batters he faced. He went on to collect a total of six strikeouts over three innings and allowed just one hit, one walk, and one run.
The Astros gave Whitley some early run support when they scored in the first inning on a Chaz Pal two-run double before adding another run in the second on a Luis Payano home run. Later, after falling behind by one, the Astros evened the score at 4-4 in the fifth with Jonathan Matute scoring on a fielder's choice.
The Twins began cutting into the Astros lead with a Ben Rortvedt RBI single in the second inning and an Amaurys Minier solo homer in the fourth. Then, in the fifth, Ariel Montesino had a RBI triple to tie the game before he scored on a wild pitch to briefly give the Twins their first lead.
With the game tied at 4-4 going into the seventh, the lead would switch hands twice in the inning. The Twins struck first as they scored on a Mitchell Kranson RBI single and a Roberto Gonzalez RBI double to take a two-run lead.
The Astros answered in the bottom half of the inning starting with a Jonathan Arauz score on a throwing error that also left runners at second and third. Then, a Reiny Beltre RBI ground out tied the game before Abraham Toro-Hernandez scored on a wild pitch to give the Astros a 7-6 lead.
The Astros had an opportunity to extend the lead in the eighth inning after Payano drove the ball into left field for a one-out triple. However, a strikeout and ground out would end the inning.
In the top of the ninth, the Twins had a runner on second after a walk and a wild pitch. With one out, Montesino singled into right field to bring the tying run home. Then Kranson hit a ground ball to Astros shortstop Jonathan Arauz, who attempted to turn a double-play by tagging the lead runner and throwing it to first, however both runners were called safe. Despite the Astros contentions, the Twins were still left with runners on first and second. Finally, with two outs, Minier drove in the eventual game-winning run on a RBI single to right field.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Astros had one more opportunity. Connor McDonald lined a two-out single to left field, but he was ultimately left stranded on a game-ending strikeout.
The Astros will host the Twins in their regular season home finale on Monday at 7:00pm. Guadalupe Chavez will take the mound for the Astros against Clark Beeker of the Twins.
The Astros are the Appalachian League affiliate of the Houston Astros. For more information, visit www.greenevilleastros.com or call (423) 638-0411.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.