ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. - It was another heartbreaker for the Cardinals on Saturday, as Johnson City erased an early three-run deficit to tie the game, but Elizabethton was able to scratch across the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to walk-off with a 4-3 win at Joe O'Brien Field.
With the defeat, the Cardinals have now lost six straight and drop to 7-10 on the season. Elizabethton's win is their fourth in-a-row and they now sit at 12-5 on the campaign.
Tied at three in the bottom of the final frame, DH Colton Waltner (0-2, R, BB, SO) drew a walk to start the inning and RF Shane Carrier (3-4, R, HR, RBI) moved him to second with a single to right. C Robert Molina (1-3) then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but the throw to first went up the line. Waltner scored with the winning run, as Elizabethton captured the game, 4-3.
Johnson City scored a run in the seventh and twice more in the eighth to even the game up. In the top of the seventh, C Irving Wilson (1-3, R, HR, RBI, BB, SO) led off the inning by smashing a ball over the wall in left for a home run. The blast - his first of the season - pulled the Redbirds with two, 3-1.
In the eighth, the Cardinals sparked up a two-out rally. 1B Luis Bandes (2-3, R, 2B, BB) started the onslaught with a single to right and scooted to second on a stolen base. RF Carlos Rodriguez (1-4, R, 3 SO) then grounded a ball into the hole at short. The throw to first was high, allowing Bandes to race home and cut the Cardinals' deficit to 3-2. The next batter, DH Julio Rodriguez (1-3, RBI, BB, SO) then evened the tide. The righty swinger slapped a single to center - scoring Carlos Rodriguez - to tie the game up at three apiece.
Elizabethton jumped out to an early 3-0 advantage thanks to a trio of home runs. 2B Jose Miranda (1-4, R, HR, RBI) and LF Brent Rooker (3-4, R, 2B, HR, RBI, BB) homered to left and right-center, respectively, in the first. Carrier added a solo blast to left-center in the fourth.
Neither starter received a decision on Saturday. Cardinals' RHP Franyel Casadilla (4.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 SO) yielded three runs in four innings, while Twins' LHP Bryan Sammons (3.2 IP, H, 3 BB, 6 SO) struck out six over 3.2 innings of shutout ball.
RHP Blair Lakso (1.1 IP, H, BB) earned his first victory of the year for the E-Twins. LHP Fabian Blanco (1.1 IP, H, R, BB, 3 SO) suffered his first defeat for Johnson City.
RHP Will Changarotty (2.2 IP, 2 H) was excellent again for the Cardinals, hurling 2.2 innings of spotless relief to keep the game within striking distance.
Bandes (2-3, R, 2B, BB) was the star of the Redbirds' offense, picking up two hits to stretch his hit streak to six games.
The Cardinals will look to get back in the win column on Sunday, as they are expected to send LHP Brett Seeburger (1-0, 1.42 ERA) to the mound. RHP Edwar Colina (2-0, 2.93 ERA) is slated to make the start for Elizabethton.
The Cardinals Pre-Game Show will kick off the broadcast at 5:45 p.m. ET, leading up to the 6:00 p.m. ET start at Joe O'Brien Field. Sunday evening's contest can be heard on NBCSportsTriCities.com, JCCardinals.com or via the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
Following the road trip, the Cardinals will return to open up a three-game homestand against the Bristol Pirates, the rookie affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, on Wednesday, July 12. It will be the Cardinals' All-You-Can-Eat Night, as fans can purchase a special wristband and enjoy all-you-can-eat on select food items.
Season and 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.