JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - 3B Brady Whalen drove in a career-best five runs on Saturday night, the last three put Johnson City ahead for good, as the Cardinals edged out the Danville Braves, 9-8, in front of 2,623 fans at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
With the win, the Redbirds improved their overall mark to 13-17 on the campaign. Danville's record dropped to 15-15 with the defeat.
Trailing 7-6 with two out in the bottom of the fourth, CF Chase Pinder (1-4, 2 R, BB, 2 SO) drew a walk and LF Wadye Ynfante (2-4, 2 R, 2B, BB, SO) reached on a single to left. After a wild pitch, DH Luis Bandes (0-4, R, BB, 3 SO) earned a four-pitch free pass to the load the bases. On a 3-2 pitch, Whalen (3-4, R, 2 2B, 5 RBI, BB, SO) smashed a rocket into the right-centerfield gap. All the runners crossed the plate on the three-run double, giving the Redbirds a 9-7 lead.
Danville managed to a get a run in the eighth on an error, but that's as close as they would get. The triumverate of RHP Jake Walsh (2.0 IP, BB, 2 SO), LHP Fabian Blanco (1.2 IP, H, R, BB, 3 SO) and LHP Jacob Patterson (1.1 IP, 2 SO) shut the door on the Braves to seal the win.
The D-Braves struck first by scoring a pair in the top of the first. With one on and two outs, C Drew Lugbauer (1-5, R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 SO) mashed a liner over the rightfield wall for a two-run homer. The jack - his Appalachian League-best eighth of the year - put Danville up, 2-0.
Johnson City wasted no time in answering, crossing the a season-best six times in the opening frame. The first three men to come to the plate reached base and a wild pitch allowed SS Imeldo Diaz (1-3, R) to come home, cutting the deficit to 2-1. With men at second and third, Whalen cranked a two-run, two-bagger off the left field wall, giving the Redbirds their first lead, 3-2.
The next batter - RF Jonathan Rivera (1-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, SO) - continued the attack, as he smashed a towering blast over the fence in left for a two-run dinger. The homer - his first of the season - made it a 5-2 Cardinals lead. Two batters later, C Cameron Knight (1-4, R, HR, RBI) ripped a line shot over the scoreboard in left for a solo homer. His long ball - the first of his professional career - capped off the six-run frame and extended the advantage to 6-2.
Danville responded, scoring at least one tally in the second through fourth innings. In the second, a throwing error allowed a run score, trimming the Johnson City lead to 6-3. SS Kevin Maitan (3-5, R, HR, 2 RBI, SO) poked an solo shot to left in the third - his first of his career - to pull the Braves within, 6-4.
In the fourth, a sacrifice fly to left by 2B Derian Cruz (1-4, R, RBI), as well as a run-scoring double from DH Bradley Keller (1-4, R, 2B, RBI, BB, SO) and single from Maitan scratched three men across, putting the Braves back ahead briefly, 7-6.
RHP Edwar Ramirez (4.0 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO) did not receive a decision on Saturday, surrendering seven runs (six earned) on nine hits in four innings. His counterpart, LHP Jaret Hellinger (3.2 IP, 7 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO) could not make it out of the fourth, suffering his first defeat of 2017.
Walsh (2.0 IP, BB, 2 SO) earned his third-straight win and fourth victory of the year for the Cardinals, while Patterson (1.1 IP, 2 SO) retired all four men he faced to garner his league-leading sixth save of the year.
The Cardinals' offense was led by Whalen (3-4, R, 2 2B, 5 RBI, BB, SO) on Saturday. The Washington native reached base four times and drove in a career-high five in the victory. Ynfante (2-4, 2 R, 2B, BB, SO) continued his recent tear, picking up his second straight multi-hit game.
The Cardinals are expected to send RHP Alvaro Seijas (1-1, 6.86 ERA) - St. Louis' No. 19 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com - to the hill in Sunday's rubber match. Danville is projected to counter with LHP Dilmer Mejia (1-1, 4.19) in the series finale.
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. Saturday evening's contest can be heard on NBCSportsTriCities.com, JCCardinals.com or via the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
Youngsters are encouraged to stick around after the game for the Cardinals' Kids Run The Bases Night.
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.