JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - The Cardinals broke out the tape measure on Thursday, as 1B Luis Bandes smashed two of the team's four home runs in Johnson City's 8-3 victory over the Princeton Rays in front of 2,238 fans at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
With the win, the Cardinals improved their overall record to 20-21. Princeton's loss is their ninth in-a-row and drops to 15-26 on the campaign.
Scoreless into the bottom of the third, Johnson City finally broke the ice. DH Imeldo Diaz (1-4, R) reached on an error to start the frame and made it all the way to third on a wild pitch and a deep fly to center. With two out, LF Wadye Ynfante (2-4, 2B, 3 RBI) hit a grounder into the hole at short. The 19-year-old was able to beat the throw to first, as Diaz scored to put the Cardinals in front, 1-0.
The long ball began to come into effect in the second. On the very first pitch of the inning Bandes (2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI) hit a laser over the left-field fence for a solo home run. The clout - his fourth of the year - gave the Redbirds a 2-0 edge.
After Princeton scratched a run across in the top of the fifth on a RBI knock by SS Zach Rutherford (2-5, 2 RBI, SO), Johnson City came back with two in the bottom of the frame. Diaz again started the attack with a single but was erased on a fielder's choice. Following a double to left by CF Chase Pinder (3-5, R, 2B), Ynfante came through again. The right-handed swinger laced a liner off the wall in right for a two-run double, giving the Cardinals a 4-1 advantage.
The Rays pulled back to within one by scoring a pair in the sixth. With first and second and two out, Rutherford drove in a run with a single to left. A second run came across on a throwing error, as Princeton was now down, 4-3.
However, the Redbirds would explode in the seventh. 2B Irving Lopez (1-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB) walloped the first pitch of the inning to deep right-center for a solo shot. The dinger - his fourth of the year - put the Cardinals back up two, 5-3.
That was far from the end of the onslaught. With two outs, C Julio Rodriguez (2-4, R) banged a single and Bandes had another opportunity. On a 3-2 offering, the 21-year-old dismantled a towering two-run blast over the scoreboard in left for another home run. His second of the day - and fifth of the year - stretched Johnson City's lead to 7-3.
3B Brady Whalen (1-4, R, HR, RBI) proceeded to continue the barrage, as he cranked a 0-2 pitch well over the fence in right for another long ball. The back-to-back shot - his third of the campaign - capped off the four-run, three-homer inning to put the Cardinals comfortably ahead, 8-3.
The run support was plenty for RHP Edwar Ramirez (5.0 IP, 5 H, R, ER, 2 BB, 4 SO). The 19-year-old issued just one run over five innings to earn his second win of the year and his first since June 24.
Princeton's RHP Joel Peguero (5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER) issued seven hits and four runs (three earned) in five innings, suffering his second-straight defeat and his third of the campaign.
Pinder (3-5, R, 2B) collected a game-high three hits for Johnson City, while Ynfante (2-4, 2B, 3 RBI) and Bandes (2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI) each picked up two knocks and a game-high-tying three RBI. Rodriguez (2-4, R) also added a pair of singles in the victory.
The Redbirds will look to win five-of-their-last-six series, as they are expected send RHP Alvaro Seijas (3-1, 5.88 ERA) to the hill in game two. Princeton is projected to counter with RHP Easton McGee (0-2, 4.23 ERA).
The Cardinals 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 TVA Credit Union Ballpark. Friday evening's contest can be heard on NBCSportsTriCities.com, JCCardinals.com or via the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
It will be History and Hero Night at the ballpark presented by General Shale, as we honor our local teachers and educators.
Single-game tickets are still available and can be purchased online at JCCardinals.com or by calling the Cardinals' Ticket Office at (423) 461-4866.
ABOUT THE JOHNSON CITY CARDINALS
The Johnson City Cardinals are the Rookie affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Members of the ten-team Appalachian League, Cardinals baseball has been entertaining families and fans of America's national pastime in the East Tennessee region for 80 years. To learn more about the Johnson City Cardinals, visit www.jccardinals.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.