JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Bluefield's trio of RHP Turner Larkins , LHP Jordan Barrett and RHP Jonathan Cheshire kept Johnson City batters on their toes, limiting the Cardinals to one hit, as the Blue Jays took the opening game of the series, 5-0, in front of 1,098 fans at TVA Credit Union Ballpark on Tuesday night.
With the loss, Johnson City has now dropped five-straight contests and sit a 33-32 on the season. Bluefield's win clinches the first overall seed in the Appalachian League eastern division and improved their overall mark to 44-22.
Despite the defeat, the Redbirds remain tied with Greeneville for the final playoff spot in the western division thanks to the Astros walk-off loss to the Princeton Rays.
Scoreless in the fourth inning, Bluefield grabbed the lead for good. With one out, C Yorman Rodriguez (2-4, R, RBI) singled and 1B Ryan Noda (0-3, R, BB, SO) walked to start the rally. 3B Brandon Grudzielanek (1-4, 2 R, 3B, 2 RBI) followed with a ringing grounder down the third-base line. Both runners score to give the Jays a 2-0 lead. Two batters later, DH Ryan Gold (1-4, RBI, SO) slapped a RBI single to center to stretch the advantage to 3-0.
The Blue Jays scratched across single runs in the fifth and sixth to cap the scoring.
In the fifth, 2B Jesus Navarro (1-4, R, SO) poked a leadoff single and moved to second on a wild pitch before scoring on a RBI base-hit to left by Rodriguez, putting Bluefield ahead four, 4-0. After Grudzielanek reached on an error to start the sixth, RF Antony Fuentes (2-4, 2B, RBI, SO) drove him in - making it 5-0 - with a double to left-center.
Larkins (2.0 IP, SO) and Barrett (5.0 IP, H, BB, 7 SO) carried the Jays' no-hit bid into the seventh, allowing just two baserunners in the fourth on an error and a walk. On a 2-0 pitch, 1B Julio Rodriguez (1-3, 2B, BB, SO) cracked a liner into center that snuck past the diving glove of CF Chavez Young . The 20-year-old stopped at second with a double for the Cards' first hit.
Larkins took a no-decision for Bluefield, while Barrett hurled five scoreless frames for his third victory of the season. RHP Alvaro Seijas (6.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, BB, 8 SO) was solid for Johnson City - striking out a career-high-tying eight - but yielded five runs (four earned), suffering his third loss of the season.
LHP Jake Dahlberg (3.0 IP, H, 2 SO) was impressive for the Birds in relief, tossing three shutout innings and striking out a pair.
The Redbirds will look to snap the skid on Wednesday, as they are slated to send the league's reigning Pitcher of the Week - RHP Zach Prendergast (3-0, 2.77 ERA) - to the hill. Bluefield is expected to hand the ball to the Appy League Pitcher of the Year, LHP Randy Pondler (4-1, 2.24 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. Wednesday evening's contest can be heard on JCCardinals.com or via the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
It will be an All-You-Can-Eat Night at the ballpark as $15 gets fans a ticket, as well as access to plentiful hot dogs, popcorn, chips, nachos with cheese and much more. Patrons who already have a ticket can purchase an upgrade to the all-you-can-eat package for just $7. It will also be Social Media Night featuring special contests and giveaways on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others.
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.