GREENEVILLE, Tenn. -- 1B Justin Bellinger blasted a home run, while RHP Ricky Karcher tossed a career-high six innings, but the Johnson City Cardinals scratched a run across in the ninth to defeat the Greeneville Reds in front of 1,108 fans at Pioneer Park on Sunday evening.
With the loss, the Redlegs dropped down to 28-37 overall on the season. The victory for the Redbirds kept their slim playoff hopes alive, as their improved their mark to 29-36.
Tied at two going to the ninth, 3B Liam Sabino (2-4, R) reached on a two-out infield single to short. DH Zach Jackson (1-4, RBI) followed by popping a fly ball into shallow right. A diving attempt came up short and kicked behind the fielder. That allowed Sabino to score from first, giving Johnson City the lead, 3-2.
Greeneville would get the tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth with a two-out free pass to C Rob Boselli (0-3, BB, 2 SO), but a pop out to first ended the ballgame.
The Cardinals drew first blood in the game, scoring twice in the top of the third. Following a single by C Brandon Purcell (1-4, R) and a double from CF Luis Flores (1-3, R, 2B, SO), 2B Donivan Williams (1-3, RBI) lofted a sacrifice fly to center to put Johnson City in front, 1-0. Two batters later, RF Leandro Cedeno (1-3, 2B, RBI, BB) poked an RBI two-base hit down the right-field line to stretch the advantage to a pair, 2-0.
Thanks to Bellinger (2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 SO), the G-Reds managed to tie the game. In the third, 3B Raul Juarez (0-4, R, SO) got aboard with a fielding error and LF Nate Scantlin (0-3, SO) reached on catcher's interference. With two away, the 23-year-old dunked a single into left - scoring Juarez from second - to pull the Redlegs within one, 2-1.
Bellinger was at it again in the sixth, as the left-handed slugger cracked a pitch around the foul pole in right for a solo home run. The blast - his third home run of the year - tied the contest up at two.
Both starters were impressive in no-decisions on Sunday. Karcher (6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 2 SO) lasted a career-high six frames for Greeneville in the best start of his young career. RHP Chris Hunt (6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, ER, 6 SO) punched out six and yielded two runs (one earned) over six for Johnson City.
RHP Cole Aker (3.0 IP, BB, 4 SO) whipped three hitless innings of relief for the Redbirds to garner his third victory of the season. It was a tough-luck loss for RHP Johnnie Schneider (3.0 IP, 3 H, R, ER, 2 SO) who gave up just one run over three innings out of the bullpen.
Greeneville will welcome the Princeton Rays to town to start the final three-game series of the 2018 season on Monday night. RHP Josiah Gray (2-1, 2.55 ERA) - Cincinnati's No. 21 prospect according to MLB.com - is expected to grab the ball the Reds, while the P-Rays are slated to counter with RHP Miguel Lara (4-3, 4.66 ERA).
The G-Reds Pre-Game Show will kick off the broadcast at 6:45 p.m. ET, leading up to the 7:00 p.m. ET start at Pioneer Park. Sunday evening's contest can be heard on GreenevilleReds.com or via the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
It will be the final Dollar Monday of the year, as fans can enjoy hot dogs, popcorn, candy, chips, and select fountain drinks and draft beer options for just one dollar. Patrons are also encouraged to arrive early, as the first 500 fans through the gates will receive a Greeneville Reds Trading Card Giveaway courtesy of Dr. Daniel Lewis and the Greene County Boys & Girls Club.
Single-game tickets are still available and can be purchased online at GreenevilleReds.com or by calling the Reds' Ticket Office at (423) 609-7400.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.