KINGSPORT, Tenn. - The Mets had no answer for LHP Jacob Schlesener on Sunday afternoon. The 20-year-old tossed five shutout innings and struck out a career-high 10, as the Johnson City Cardinals held on to defeat Kingsport, 3-2, at Hunter Wright Stadium.
With the win, the Cardinals improve their overall mark to 10-14 on the campaign. The loss drops the K-Mets to 9-13 so far this season.
Sunday's ballgame was a pitcher's duel until the Cardinals finally broke through in the fifth inning. 3B Starlin Balbuena (2-4, R, 2B, SO) snapped a 0-for-20 skid by doubling to left and RF Carlos Talavera (1-3, 2 R, BB) followed with a free pass. After a throwing error moved the runners to second and third, Balbuena was thrown out at the plate on a fielder's choice. With two down, CF Chase Pinder (1-3, RBI, BB) snapped the tie by slapping a run-scoring single to right, putting the Redbirds in front, 1-0.
Johnson City added to their lead with a run in the seventh. Balbuena led off the frame with an infield single to third and Talavera pushed him to third on a single to left-center. After a pickoff at first, 2B Irving Lopez (2-4, 2 RBI) lofted a sacrifice fly to right to give the Cardinals a 2-0 edge.
Lopez was at it again for Johnson City in the ninth. LF Walker Robbins (1-4, SO) started the inning with a single but was erased on a fielder's choice off the bat of Talavera. After a throwing error on a pickoff allowed the runner to advance to third, the left-handed hitter smacked a base-hit into shallow left field. Talavera crossed home to make it a 3-0 affair.
Kingsport managed to rally for two in the ninth, but that was as close as they would get. DH Jeremy Vasquez (1-4, R, 2B, SO) banged the first pitch of the inning for a double and came home on the RBI single to center by C Juan Uriarte (1-4, R, RBI, 3 SO).
LHP Jacob Patterson (1.0 IP, H, SO) then entered to try and shut the door. CF Anthony Dirocie (2-4, 2 SO) promptly singled to left-center and moved to second on the throw to put the tying runs in scoring position with nobody out. However, the left-hander buckled down and recorded a strike out, a RBI ground out and a line out to second to end the ballgame and seal his Appalachian League-leading fifth save of the year.
Schlesener (5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 10 SO) was untouchable for Johnson City. The Rogersville, Mo. native punched out a career-high 10 batters, including a stretch of five in-a-row from the end of the first to the start of the third. The 10 whiffs surpassed his previous high of nine, which he set on July 3 vs. Pulaski. The win was his first of the season.
RHP Evan Guillory (3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 SO) surrendered two runs in the ninth but was stellar on Sunday. The right-hander stranded two inherited runners on in the sixth and threw 29 of 34 pitches for strikes.
RHP Carlos Hernandez (5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO) faired well for Kingsport - surrendering two runs in five innings of relief - but suffered his first loss of the campaign. Mets starter - RHP Luis De Los Santos (3.0 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 3 SO) - did not allow a run in three innings for a no-decision.
Lopez (2-4, 2 RBI) earned his third straight multi-hit game against Kingsport, while Balbuena (2-4, R, 2B, SO) captured his first multi-knock contest of the 2017 season.
The Cardinals will look to capture the series on Monday, as RHP Edwar Ramirez (1-3, 5.82 ERA) is expected to toe the slab for Johnson City. Kingsport is slated to send RHP Ezequiel Zabaleta (0-1, 6.86 ERA) to the hill in the series finale.
The Cardinals Pre-Game Show will kick off the broadcast at 6:15 p.m. ET, leading up to the 6:30 p.m. ET start at Hunter Wright Stadium. Monday evening's contest can be heard on NBCSportsTriCities.com, JCCardinals.com or via the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
Following the six-game road trip, the Redbirds will return home for a six-set homestand, starting with a three-contest series against the Danville Braves, the rookie affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, starting on Friday, July 21. It will be Salute to Heroes Night at the ballpark, as Johnson City will honor veterans past and present with select discounts inside the stadium. Following that night's game, there will be a spectacular Fireworks Show presented by Xtreme Painting.
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.