JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - The Cardinals' offense continued their red-hot tear, as Johnson City scored seven runs in the fifth en route to an impressive 12-5 victory over the Elizabethton Twins in front of 3,241 fans at TVA Credit Union Ballpark on Saturday night.
The victory was the sixth in-a-row for the Redbirds, as they improved their overall mark to 27-22 on the year. Elizabethton's loss drops them to 29-21 on the campaign.
Thanks to Greeneville's pair of losses to Kingsport coupled with Johnson City's win, the Cardinals now sit alone in the final playoff spot in the Appalachian League's Western Division. The Redbirds are also now just a game-and-a-half back of Elizabethton for first place.
Down 2-0 after the first inning, Johnson City scored the next 11 runs in the affair. After C Julio Rodriguez (3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, BB) singled and 3B Brady Whalen (1-2, 3 R, 2B, BB) got hit by a pitch, SS Imeldo Diaz (4-5, RBI) came through to tie the game. The 19-year-old singled to score Rodriguez, while Whalen crossed on a scoring error to even the game.
The Redbirds took the lead for good in the third. 2B Irving Lopez (1-6, 2 R) and CF Chase Pinder (1-2, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB, SO) reached on a single and hit-by-pitch, respectively, to start the inning. After a wild pitch, Julio Rodriguez put the Cardinals in front, 3-2, on a RBI ground out to short.
1B Carlos Rodriguez (1-3, R, 2 RBI, 2 SO) made it a 4-2 contest on a run-scoring single in the fourth before the Cards' offense erupted in the fifth.
LF Wadye Ynfante (0-2, R, RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO) drew a free pass to begin the inning, setting the stage for Julio Rodriguez. The backstop launched a 3-2 pitch over the left-field wall for a two-run home run. The blast - his third of the year - put the Cardinals ahead, 6-2.
The rally kick started again with one out. Whalen walked, Diaz singled and RF Carlos Talavera (0-3, R, 2 BB, 3 SO) drew a free pass to load the bases up for Carlos Rodriguez. The first baseman was plunked to force home a run, extending Johnson City's lead to 7-2.
After a pair of bases-loaded walks, Julio Rodriguez came through again. The 20-year-old smashed a two-run double down the line in left - collecting four RBI in the inning - to make it an 11-2 contest.
Johnson City scored their final tally in the seventh on a run-scoring ground out off the bat of DH Luis Bandes (1-5, RBI, SO).
The Twins brought in a pair in the first on a RBI triple by 2B Jose Miranda (1-3, R, 3B, RBI, SO) and a sacrifice fly by 1B J.J. Robinson (1-3, R, 2 RBI). Elizabethton added a run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by LF Mark Contreras (0-3, RBI) and two more in the eighth on a run-scoring fielder's choice and a balk.
RHP Zach Prendergast (5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 SO) surrendered a pair in the first but bounced back nicely. The 22-year-old retired the final 14 batters he faced to collect his second victory of the season.
Elizabethton's starter - LHP Ryley Widell (3.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO) - was taxed for four runs (three earned) in 3.1 innings, suffering his second-straight defeat.
Julio Rodriguez (3-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, BB) was the dominant force in the Cardinal offense, driving in a game-high five runs and finishing a triple short of the cycle. Diaz (4-5, RBI) picked up a run batted in and a game-best four hits in the rout, as well.
Johnson City is expected to send RHP Franyel Casadilla (1-3, 7.09 ERA) to the hill in tomorrow's matchup. Elizabethton's scheduled to counter with RHP Melvi Acosta (4-2, 6.69 ERA).
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 TVA Credit Union Ballpark. Sunday evening's contest can be heard on JCCardinals.com or via the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
It will be Picnic on The Perch Night at the ballpark on Sunday, as $18 gives fans reserved seating on "The Perch" down the third-base line and access to an all-you-can-eat buffet.
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.