BLUEFIELD, Va. - In a roller coaster ninth, 1B Luis Bandes gave the Cardinals the lead with a RBI double, while LHP Jacob Patterson came on to escape a bases-loaded jam, as Johnson City snuck away with a 3-2 victory over the Bluefield Blue Jays on Thursday night at Bowen Field.
With the win, Johnson City has now won 19-of-their-last-28 contests and improved to 29-24 on the season. Bluefield's loss drops them to 36-18 on the campaign.
Tied at two in the ninth, 3B Brady Whalen (1-4, R, 2 SO) ignited the frame with a single to center. After a base-hit by C Julio Rodriguez (1-3, R, BB), Bandes (2-4, 2B, RBI) stepped to the dish. With the infield and outfield in expecting a bunt, the Venezuelan native cracked the first pitch over the centerfielder's head. Whalen scored from second on the double to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead. Rodriguez was also thrown out at the plate on the play.
In the bottom of the ninth, things got hairy. RHP Thomas St. Clair (0.1 IP, 3 BB, SO) struck out the lead-off man but then walked the next three batters to load the bases. Manager Roberto Espinoza then called upon Patterson (0.2 IP) to try and seal the win.
On the third pitch he threw, CF Chavez Young (1-5, RBI) hit a ground ball to third. Whalen stepped on the bag and threw home where C Alexis Wilson - who had entered as a pinch-hitter in the top of the inning - slapped the tag on RF Freddy Rodriguez (0-2, BB, SO) to complete the double play and end the contest.
Johnson City drew first blood in the game, scoring runs in the second and third. Rodriguez led off the second with a walk and moved to third on a single to right by Bandes. The 20-year-old would score on the next play - giving the Redbirds a 1-0 edge - as RF Jonathan Rivera (0-3, SO) grounded into a double play.
In the third, LF Carlos Talavera (1-2, R) and SS Irving Lopez (1-4, SO) each singled with one out. CF Chase Pinder (1-4, RBI, 2 SO) proceeded to smash a run-scoring single to right-center, giving the Birds a 2-0 lead.
Bluefield tied the game with two runs in the fifth. LF McGregory Contreras (1-3, R, SO) led off with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error. After a sacrifice bunt, C Reilly Johnson (1-2, RBI, 2 BB) ripped a RBI single to center, trimming the deficit to 2-1.
2B Jesus Navarro (1-2, R, BB) proceeded to lift a single to right. Following a fielding error and a pickle on the bases, Johnson was thrown out trying to score. However, the baserunning miscue did not quell the threat. Young slapped a base-hit to center - scoring Navarro - and evening the game up at two.
Neither starter received a decision on Thursday. RHP Alvaro Seijas (6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, ER, BB, 3 SO) earned his fourth quality start of the year, giving up just one earned run over six innings for Johnson City. LHP Jordan Barrett (4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 3 SO) issued two runs in four innings for Bluefield.
It was another stellar performance for RHP Jake Walsh (2.0 IP, BB, 4 SO) out of the bullpen, as he struck out the final four men he faced, earning his team-leading fifth win of the season. Patterson (0.2 IP) recorded the final two outs to garner his Appalachian League-lead-tying ninth save.
RHP Turner Larkins (5.0 IP, 4 H, R, ER, 4 SO) retired 12 batters in-a-row at one point but surrendered the go-ahead run in the ninth to take his first professional loss.
Johnson City will go for their eighth series win in 10 tries on Friday, as RHP Zach Prendergast (2-0, 3.21 ERA) is slated to take the hill. Bluefield is projected to turn the ball over to RHP Josh Winckowski (1-1, 5.36).
The Cardinals Pre-Game Show will kick off the broadcast at 6:50 p.m. ET, leading up to the 7:05 p.m. ET start at Bowen Field. Thursday evening's contest can be heard on JCCardinals.com or via the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
Following the six-game road trip, the Redbirds will return home to open up a three-game series against the Greeneville Astros, the rookie affiliate of the Houston Astros, on Wednesday, August 23. It will be Hot Dog Heaven Night as all hot dogs that evening will be sold for just 50 cents.
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.