KINGSPORT, Tenn.- Despite a ninth-inning rally that brought the tying run to second base, Bluefield was able to hang on to win the Thursday night shootout over the Kingsport Mets 11-10 as the two teams combined to score 21 runs off 28 hits in Game 2 at Hunter Wright Stadium.
The game saw a combined six home runs with four coming from Kingsport (27-32). Bluefield (41-20) saw its leadoff man reach base safely in eight of the nine innings played on the night. In a game that took 3 hours and 32 minutes, the Blue Jays led throughout aside from a tie ballgame in the fifth inning.
It did not take long for the scoring to get underway at Hunter Wright Stadium Thursday night as the Blue Jays plated four runs in the first thanks to a three-run home run from Ryan Noda, Appalachian League average leader, and an RBI triple from Kevin Smith.
Kingsport responded in the bottom of the frame to cut the deficit to three runs at 4-1 when Wagner Lagrange drove in Hansel Moreno from second base. Moreno has now scored a run in the first inning in each of the least four ballgames.
Leading by three runs in the second, Bluefield added two more with a two-run single from Smith. The short stop began the day 2-for-2 in the first inning with three RBIs for the Blue Jays. Kingsport did not slack in the bottom of the frame as Gavin Garay and Anthony Dirocie smacked back-to-back home runs to bring the Mets within three at 6-3.
Reilly Johnson drove in another run in the top of the third to hand Bluefield a four-run lead but then Kingsport responded right back in the tail end of the this with three runs of their own. Dionis Pauino tripled in a pair while Garay drove in the third with a sacrifice fly.
After three innings of play, Bluefield led Kingsport by a 7-6 score.
Following a scoreless fourth inning, Kingsport tied the ballgame in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to Wagner Lagrange's fourth home run of the season that left the park over the batter's eye in straight-away center field.
Tied at 7-7 heading to the sixth inning, the Blue Jays immediately took the lead once again with a leadoff home run from McGregory Contreras. Ryan Gold drove in another run four batters later to hand the visitors a 9-7 lead midway through six innings.
Kingsport responded with another run in the seventh to cut the deficit to a run thanks to a wild pitch that allowed Juan Uriarte to score, but Bluefield scored two more in the top of the eighth with an RBI double from Brandon Grudzielanek and a safety-squeeze bunt from Johnson.
Trailing by three at 11-8 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Uriarte took an 0-2 heater over the right-field fence to cut the deficit to only a run at 11-10. Garay followed with a double to right field but was then left stranded when Pualino flew out to end the game with the tying run at second base.
The shootout ended with Bluefield holding on for an 11-10 win off of 16 hits on the night. McGregory three hits with a home run, Noda tallied three hits with a home run, Johnson drove in two runs and Grudzielanek brought in another.
Kingsport plated 10 runs off 12 hits and had a four-hit day from Lagrange that included two RBIs and three runs scored. Uriarte collected three hits with a homer and three runs scored while had two hits and two RBIs in the loss. Dirocie drilled his 10th home run of the season during the loss as well.
The winning pitcher on the night for Bluefield was the starter Josh Winckowski (2-2) who was the last pitcher to leave the mound before the Jays took the lead for the final time. His line read five innings of seven -run baseball with five strikeouts. Ty Tice (S, 11) picked up his 11th save of the season despite the ninth-inning rally by the K-Mets.
Ronald Sanchez (0-4) took home the loss after surrendering the go-ahead run off three hits in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Game 3 of the series is set to begin Friday night at 6:30 p.m. The game will also serve as Amed Rosario Bobble Head Giveaway Night to the first 500 fans through the gate. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. with first pitch at 6:30 p.m. Coverage of the game will be available at 6:15 p.m. with the Braeden's Barbeque Pregame Show on the Kingsport Mets B
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.