JOHNSON CITY, Tenn.- A five-run first inning for Johnson City was too much to overcome Sunday night at TVA Credit Union Ballpark as the Kingsport Mets fell to the Cardinals by a final score of 7-2 in Game 1 of the crucial three-game Appalachian League-West series.
With the loss, Kingsport (18-25) snaps its three-game winning streak and falls to 4-3 against the Red Birds on the year. Johnson City (22-22) keeps separation between the Mets with the win as both teams are eyeing second-place in the West standings as the season nears its final three weeks.
The Cardinals were off and running when the gates opened with five runs in the first off five hits as Kingsport starter Christian James was torched from the start. Luis Baundes crushed a three-run homer run to left field, Carlos Talavera drove in another with an infield single and J.D. Murders brought the fifth run in on a sacrifice fly to left field.
Johnson City cranked another run across in the second inning when Stanley Espinal singled up the middle to bring in Julio Rodriguez from second base for the sixth run of the day. Just like that, James's day was done for the Mets after only two innings of six run baseball with seven hits and no strikeouts.
Kingsport answered by plating a run in the top of the third with an RBI single from Dionis Paulino but the Cardinals go the lead back up to six two innings later when Chase Pinder walked with the bases-loaded to bring in another run.
After five innings of Game 1 action, Johnson City led Kingsport 7-1.
The Mets tacked on one more run on the night in the top of the ninth when Hansel Moreno drilled his second double of the night but the deficit was just too much t overcome as the cardinals proved too strong in the series-opener with the 7-2 win.
It was a solid pitching outing for Johnson City in Game 1 of the series as four hurlers combined to allow only one earned in the 7-2 victory. Jake Dahlberg (2-0) picked up his second win of the season after facing the minimum over three innings of relief with four strikeouts while the starter, Zach Pendergast, allowed four six hits over four innings with one unearned run given up and seven strikeouts.
James (1-3) took the loss on the night while Joshua Payne tossed two scoreless frames, Mac Lozer surrendered a run in two innings and Ryan Selmer finished it off with a scoreless seventh and eighth.
Moreno tallied two doubles with an RBI on the night while Paulino singled twice with an RBI in the third. Four players for Johnson City brought home multi-hit days while Bandes sixth home run of the season was the big blow that got JC on the board early on 3-0 with no outs in the first.
Game 2 of the series is set to begin at 7 pm Monday night from TVA Credit Union Ballpark. Ronald Sanchez will get the baseball on the found for the Kingsport Mets as coverage of the action can be found on the Kingsport Mets Baseball Network beginning at 6:45 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.