JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - RHP Alvaro Seijas worked a career-high seven innings and retired 20-of-the-last-22 batters he faced, as the Johnson City Cardinals used a four-run third inning to catapult past the Princeton Rays, 4-2, in front of 1,711 fans at TVA Credit Union Ballpark on Friday evening.
With the win, the Redbirds pull back to the .500 mark at 21-21 and captured their fifth series in six tries. Princeton's defeat is their 10th in-a-row, falling to 15-27 on the campaign.
Trailing 2-0, Johnson City's offense sprung to life in the third. RF Carlos Talavera (3-4, R, SO) started the rally with a single down the left-field line, bringing up DH Imeldo Diaz (1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, SO). The 19-year-old blasted a 0-1 offering over the left field scoreboard for a game-tying, two-run home run. The dinger - his third of the season - evened the game up at two.
The attack did not stop there, as 2B Irving Lopez (1-5, 2 SO) restarted the rally with a knock to center and CF Chase Pinder (1-4, R, BB, SO) followed with a bunt single. After a pop out on a bunt and a fielder's choice, 1B Luis Bandes (2-4, R) put the Redbirds in front for good. The Venezuelan native laced the first offering he saw into right-center for a base-hit. Pinder scored from second, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 advantage. 3B Brady Whalen (1-3, 2B, RBI, BB) continued the onslaught, smashed a liner into right-center for a double. C Julio Rodriguez (2-4, R, 2B) came home from second, but Bandes was thrown out at the plate, as Johnson City finished the frame with a 4-2 edge.
That was all the run support the Cardinals' pitching staff needed on Friday. After C Ronaldo Hernandez 's (1-4, 2 RBI, SO) go-ahead, two-run single in the first, Seijas (7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 7 SO) went on to retire 13 straight batters and 20-of-the-last-22 he faced to close out his night.
LHP Fabian Blanco (2.0 IP, 2 SO) was just as untouchable out of the bullpen. The 19-year-old southpaw sat down all six men he squared off against to earn his fifth save of the year and seal Seijas' fourth victory.
In all, the pair of teenagers combined to erase 26-of-the-final-28 batters in the ballgame to close out Johnson City's two-run triumph.
Talavera (3-4, R, SO) led the Cardinal offense, earning a game-high three hits in the victory. Bandes (2-3, RBI, BB) added his second straight multi-hit game for the Redbirds, while Rodriguez (2-4, R, 2B) did the same.
The Redbirds will try and complete their first sweep of the 2017 season, as they are expected send LHP Jacob Schlesener (1-1, 3.25 ERA) to the hill in the series finale. Princeton is projected to counter with LHP Luis Moncada (4-2, 5.63 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. Saturday evening's contest can be heard on NBCSportsTriCities.com, JCCardinals.com or via the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
Fans are encouraged to arrive early, as the first 1,000 fans through the gate will receive a Rick Ankiel T-Shirt Jersey Giveaway. Gates are scheduled to open at 6 p.m. ET.
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.