PRINCETON, W.V. - Princeton held Johnson City without a base-hit over the first 5.1 innings of the ballgame, as the Rays scratched across runs in each of the first four frames to defeat the Cardinals, 12-2, on Saturday night at Hunnicutt Field.
With the loss, Johnson City drops to 33-29 on the season. Princeton's win improves their overall record to 26-36.
Despite the defeat, the Redbirds maintain a one-game lead over the Astros for the final playoff spot in the Appalachian League western division due to Greeneville's loss to Elizabethton.
Princeton erupted right out of the gates and scored in each of the first four innings. In the first, CF Michael Smith (1-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, SO) singled and scored on a RBI double by 1B Devin Davis (1-4, R, 2B, RBI, BB) to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
A pair of doubles drove home a tally for the P-Rays in the second, as RF Moises Gomez (2-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB) led off the frame a two-bagger and scored on another by 3B Seaver Whalen (1-4, 2B, RBI).
It became 4-0 in the third, as SS Zach Rutherford (2-3, 2 R, RBI) singled and C Ronaldo Hernandez (3-4, 2 R, 3 2B, RBI, BB) double before they both crossed the dish on a two-run single to right by Gomez.
Princeton added single runs in the fourth and sixth on a run-scoring double by Hernandez and a RBI ground out by Smith to extend the advantage to 6-0.
Johnson City finally got on the scoreboard in the seventh. An inning after SS Imeldo Diaz (1-3, BB, SO) broke up the no-hit bid with a one-out single, 2B J.D. Murders (1-3, R, SO) led off the frame with an infield base-hit. After a pair of wild pitches moved him to third, RF Carlos Rodriguez (0-3, RBI, BB, 2 SO) brought him home on a ground out to second, pulling the Cardinals within five, 6-1.
On the very next pitch, LF Walker Robbins (1-4, R, HR, RBI) hit a high fly ball that scraped over the left-center field fence for a solo home run. The clout - his second of the year and his first since his walk-off blast on opening night - nudged the Redbirds closer at 6-2.
The Rays would make the game out of reach in the eighth. DH Justin Bridgman (0-4, R, BB) walked and later scored on an error, while LF Bryce Brown (1-3, 2 R, BB, SO) drew a free pass and came home on a sacrifice fly by Rutherford, giving Princeton an 8-2 edge. Two batters after a wild pitch allowed Smith to score, 2B Trey Hair (1-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB) cracked a three-run home run to right-center. The dinger - his ninth of the campaign - capped the six-run inning with a 12-2 Rays' lead.
RHP Riley O'Brien (5.0 IP, 4 BB, 5 SO) had command issues - walking four - but did not allow a hit over five shutout innings, earning his first professional win for the P-Rays.
His counterpart - RHP Edwar Ramirez (3.2 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, BB, 2 SO) - failed to make it out of the fourth inning, yielding five runs on nine hits. The 19-year-old was dealt his sixth loss of the campaign for Johnson City.
The Redbirds will look to get back in the win column on Sunday, as LHP Jacob Schlesener (2-2, 3.56 ERA) - the Appy League-leader in strikeouts - is slated to take the hill. The Rays are expected to hand the ball off to LHP Luis Moncada (4-2, 5.45 ERA).
The Cardinals Pre-Game Show will kick off the broadcast at 4:45 p.m. ET, leading up to the 5:00 p.m. ET start at Hunnicut Field. Sunday 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.