Rays erupt early, batter Birds, 10-3

Princeton scores multiple runs in first three innings to take series

DH Stanley Espinal picked up two hits - including a RBI double - as the Cardinals fell to the Rays, 10-3, on Sunday night at Hunnicutt Field. (Bret Jacomet)

By Justin Rocke / Johnson City Cardinals | August 27, 2017 8:15 PM


PRINCETON, W.V. - For the second time in as many nights, Princeton scratched across runs in each of the first three frames, as the Rays captured the game and the series with a 10-3 victory over the Johnson City Cardinals on Sunday night at Hunnicutt Field.

With the loss, the Cardinals fall to 33-30 on the campaign. Princeton's victory improves their overall record to 27-36.

The contest got off to a positive start, as Johnson City pushed across two runs in the top of the first. CF Chase Pinder (1-3, R, SO) and SS Imeldo Diaz (1-4, R, SO) each singled with one out to start the rally. 1B Luis Bandes (1-4, RBI, SO) and C Alexis Wilson (1-4, RBI, SO) followed with consecutive run-scoring knocks to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

After a walk to 3B Brady Whalen (2-3, R, BB) loaded the bases, Princeton removed LHP Luis Moncada (0.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, SO) from the contest. RHP Ryan Askew (4.2 IP, SO) entered and induced an inning-ending double play, starting a stretch of 17-straight Cardinal batters retired by Rays' pitching.

Johnson City's lead did not last long, as the P-Rays doubled their opponents total in the bottom half of the frame. After back-to-back walks to CF Michael Smith (2-3, 3 R, 3B, BB, SO) and SS Zach Rutherford (1-4, R, BB) started the frame, C Ronaldo Hernandez (2-4, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, SO) smashed a RBI single to trim the Redbirds' lead to 2-1.

After a bloop single by 1B Devin Davis (1-4, R, RBI) loaded the bases, a walk to 2B Trey Hair (2-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI, BB) forced home a run to tie it up at two. A double play ground ball off the bat of RF Moises Gomez (2-5, 2B, RBI, SO) brought in the go-ahead tally, giving Princeton the advantage, 3-2. Finally, 3B Justin Bridgman (3-5, 2 RBI, SO) banged a RBI single to right to make it a 4-2 Rays' lead.

Princeton would score three more times in the second. Smith ignited another rally with a leadoff triple and Hernandez was plunked on the foot with one out. A sacrifice fly to left by Davis tracked home another run extend the Rays' edge to three, 5-2.

A double and an error off the bat of Hair scored Hernandez, making it a 6-2 contest, while a run-scoring single by Gomez rang in the final run of the frame.

The Rays added two in the third on a double by Hernandez, giving Princeton a seven-run lead after the first three frames, 9-2.

In the sixth, the P-Rays scored their 10th and final run on a RBI fielder's choice by Bridgman.

Johnson City snapped a streak of 17 in-a-row retired in the seventh on a single to right by Whalen and added one last tally in the ninth. With one out, Whalen singled and DH Stanley Espinal (2-4, 2B, RBI) doubled him home.

Askew (4.2 IP, SO) retired all 13 batters he faced, earning his third win of the year in relief for the Rays. Moncada (0.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, SO) failed to make it out of the first for Princeton, taking home a no-decision.

LHP Jacob Schlesener (0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB) did not get through the first cleanly either, yielding four runs in 0.2 innings and was saddled with his third defeat of the season.

The Redbirds will look to capture the series-finale on Monday, as RHP Evan Guillory (2-1, 2.82 ERA) is slated to take the hill. The Rays are expected to hand the ball off to RHP Dylan Thompson (2-2, 6.07 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 Hunnicut Field. Monday evening's contest can be heard on JCCardinals.com or via the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps. 

The team will return home on Tuesday, August 29, to open up the final homestand of the regular season against the Bluefield Blue Jays, the rookie affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. It will be the final Tennessee Pride Tuesday of the season presented by Citi. All barbecue sandwiches, Dr. Enuf, and local brewed 16 oz. craft beers will be sold for just two dollars all night long.

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.



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.

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