JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Greeneville scratched across three runs in the first and five more in the fourth, leaving a hole Johnson City could not dig out of. The Astros captured the series finale, besting the Cardinals, 9-6, in front of 2,551 fans at TVA Credit Union Ballpark on Friday night.
With the loss, Johnson City's lead over Greeneville for the final playoff spot in the Appalachian League western division shrinks to one game with six left to play. The Cardinals overall mark dropped to 33-28, while the Astros improved to 32-29.
Tied at three, Greeneville grabbed the lead for good in the top of the fourth. LF Frankeny Fernandez (1-5, 2 R, RBI) reached on an error to start the frame and moved to third on a single by 1B Jose Benjamin (1-4, 2 R). 2B Joan Mauricio (1-4, R, RBI, SO) put the Astros ahead with a run-scoring single, 4-3.
The onslaught did not stop there. CF Wilson Amador (2-4, R, 2B, 3 RBI, SO) extended the advantage to 6-3 with a two-run double and SS Juan Pineda (2-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI) added a RBI double of his own to stretch Greeneville's lead to four, 7-3. DH Roman Garcia (3-5, 2B, RBI, SO) brought home the final tally of the frame with a bloop RBI single to right.
Johnson City trimmed the deficit to two with a three-run bottom of the fourth, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way. DH Stanley Espinal (1-3, R, 2B, BB) and RF Jonathan Rivera (1-4, R, 2B, RBI, SO) each ripped doubles - the latter bringing home a run - to make it an 8-4 contest. A sacrifice fly to center by 2B Irving Lopez (0-3, R, RBI) pulled the Redbirds within three, 8-5. Finally, the Cards cut it to 8-6, as a wild pitch brought home CF Carlos Talavera (0-3, 2 R, BB, SO).
Greeneville struck first, scoring a trio of runs in the top half of the first. Pineda singled to leadoff the game and scooted to third on a double by Garcia. Fernandez and C Oscar Campos (2-5, 2 RBI) each smacked run-scoring singles to put the Astros in the driver's seat, 3-0.
The Cardinals managed to scratch three across in the third to tie it up. Johnson City loaded the bases with one out on an error and back-to-back hit-by-pitches of Lopez and 3B Brady Whalen (1-4, R, 3 SO). A wild pitch scored Talavera to get the Redbirds on the board and 1B Luis Bandes (1-4, 2 RBI, SO) banged a two-run single through-the-middle to even the contest at three.
In the fifth, Greeneville scored the game's final run on a RBI knock by Amador.
RHP Ian Hardman (1.2 IP, H, 2 BB, 2 SO) earned the win for the G-Stros out of the bullpen, tossing 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. The man who was supposed to start the game - RHP Jheyson Caraballo (4.0 IP, H, 3 SO) - hurled four spotless frames to earn his second save of the season. Starter - LHP Cole Watts (3.1 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 3 ER, BB, 3 SO) - yielded all six runs in a no-decision.
Johnson City's RHP Franyel Casadilla (3.1 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO) suffered his sixth defeat of the season, yielding eight runs (seven earned) in 3.1 innings.
The Redbirds hit the road for their final road-trip of the 2017 regular season, as they head to Princeton for a three-game set against the Rays, the rookie affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. RHP Edwar Ramirez (3-6, 6.22 ERA) is slated to take the hill for the Baby Birds in the series opener. The Rays have not yet named their starter for the series' lid-lifter.
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 Hunnicut Field. Saturday evening's contest can be heard on JCCardinals.com or via the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
The team will return home on Tuesday, August 29, to open up the final homestand of the regular season against the Bluefield Blue Jays, the rookie affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. It will be the final Tennessee Pride Tuesday of the season presented by Citi. All barbecue sandwiches, Dr. Enuf, and local brewed 16 oz. craft beers will be sold for just two dollars all night long.
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.