KINGSPORT, Tenn.- A dramatic ninth inning Saturday night ended with a walk-off home run from Angel Manzanarez as the Kingsport Mets erased deficits of five runs and seven runs to rally past Johnson City for a 13-12 victory in Game 1 of the three-game series.
Heading to the bottom of the ninth inning, the K-Mets trialed by a score of 12-10. Both Kevin Hall and Manzanarez blasted their first professional home runs to tie and win the game for the home team. Hall's two-run home run drove in Anthony Dirocie while Manazanarez's bomb was in solo fashion. Both home runs were over the left field wall.
Kingsport finished the contest going 7-for-15 with runners in scoring position while scoring four runs in the fifth, three runs in the sixth and three more runs in the ninth to erase the vast deficits they were entangled in throughout the night.
Prior to the first walk-off win for the 2017 Kingsport Mets, it was all Johnson City in a big way.
It was an eventful first inning Saturday evening as both the Kingsport Mets (9-12) and Johnson City Cardinals (9-14) combined to plate seven runs off only five hits in the opening-frame, but it was thee defensive errors on the side of the home team that kept balls in play in the top of the first.
The visitors took a 5-0 lead primarily off a three-run home run from Luis Bandez while also benefitting from consecutive two-baggers from Brady Whalen and Walker Robbins. The drive to deep right-center field from Whalen was actually ruled an error on the K-Mets' right fielder, Wagner Lagrange as the ball bounced off his glove after coming a long way-Carlos Rodriguez scored on the play as he reached a batter earlier on a throwing error by Mets' third baseman Rigoberto Terrazas.
Johnson City followed with a true double from Robbins a batter later as the drive brought in Whalen for the fifth run of the inning. After only the top of the first inning, Cardinals' starter Franyel Casadilla had a 5-0 lead.
After a couple of scoreless innings, Johnson City was at it again in the fourth when Irving Lopez tripled to deep right-center field to bring in the sixth run of the evening. With only one out and a runner at third base, Kingsport played both its outfield and infielders in-easily allowing the fly ball to sail past Lagrange in right field.
Midway through four innings of play, Johnson City upped its lead back to four runs at 6-2.
The Cardinals tacked on three more runs in the top of the fifth when Bandes drilled a solo shot, his second home run of the day, to left field, Whalen recoded an RBI single and Robbins tallied a sacrifice fly. Kingsport finally answered in the bottom of the frame with four runs of their own as Wagner Lagrange drilled a three-run home run to left field and Jeremy Vasquez singled in another from third base.
After five innings of play, Kingsport cut the Johnson City lead to only three runs as the visitors led 9-6.
Both teams were at it again in the sixth as the two club's combined for five more runs. The Red Birds scored two runs on a wild pitch from Kingsport reliever Ryan Selmer-one on the wild pitch and one on a dropped toss from Selmer with a play at the plate. Kingsport responded once again with RBIs in the bottom of the frame from Lagrange, Terrazas and Vasquez once again.
Through six innings at the ballpark, Kingsport had once again gotten within striking distance as the club trailed 11-9.
Both teams plated a run in the eighth inning to set the table for the heroics in the bottom of the ninth.
Trailing by two runs at 12-10, Hall launched a two-run home run to left field to tie the game at 12-all with no outs in the frame. Two batters and an out later, Manzanarez walked it off with a solo home run that just got over the left field wall for the game-winner. The blast was the second baseman's first professional home run.
In a game that lasted three hours and 31 minutes-and one that witnessed a combined 25 runs off 32 hits-it was Kingsport that stole the show in its last at-bat to leap frog the Cardinals into third place in the Appalachian League West standings.
The Mets saw five multi-hit days as Hansel Moreno's debut in a Kingsport uniform included four hits and three runs scored. Terrazas finished the contest going 4-for-5 at the plate with two triples, a double and a single while Lagrange drove in four runs off a three-run home run and an RBI single.
Vasquez plated two runs during the victory as well while Manazanarez and Juan Uriarte recorded an RBI on the night.
For Johnson City who blew five and seven run leads in the loss, Bandes led the way with two home runs and four RBI while Whalen drove in two and Carlos Rodriguez doubled twice.
Stephen Villines (2-0) picked up his second win of the season following a scoreless, 1-2-3 ninth inning that included two strikeouts. Fabian Blanco (0-2) took home the loss on the night after blowing what could have been a two-inning save after surrendering four runs off five hits in innings eight and nine.
Game 2 of the series is set to begin Sunday at 4 p.m. from Hunter Wright Stadium. Coverage will be made available on the Kingsport Mets Baseball Network beginning at 3:45 p.m. with the Braeden's Barbeque Pregame Show. Carlos Hernandez gets the nod for the K-Mets while Jacob Shlesener will start for Johnson City.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.