BRISTOL, Va.-The Kingsport Mets positioned themselves with an opportunity to cap its first series-sweep of the season, but two runs in the final two innings Tuesday night sparked an 8-7 walk-off win for the Bristol Pirates over the K-Mets in Game 3 of the series.
With the loss, Kingsport (17-29) stays put in fifth place in the Appalachian League West. A win over Bristol (18-27) on Tuesday night would have moved the K-Mets 0.5 game in front of the Pirates and into fourth place in the division.
Jhaon Herrera's walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning capped the come-from-behind win for the Pirates in a game where Kingsport blew a five-run lead in the third inning and a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth.
In the bottom of the eighth, Raul Siri legged out a two-out double to shallow center field to put a runner in scoring position for the home team. A batter later, Julio De La Cruz came to the plate a delivered a game-tying single that plated Siri to knot the game at seven runs apiece.
The following inning, Adrian Almeida (0-2) was once again called upon to try and hold the game at the tie score. Ameida pitched the final three outs of Game 2 the day before, striking out two batters to pick up his first save of the season in the K-Mets 5-4 comeback win.
Tuesday told a different story for the southpaw as the pitcher misfired on 10 of his first 11 pitches out of the zone. Consecutive walks to Victor Fernandez and Daniel Cucjen put two men on with no outs to begin the bottom of the ninth inning. Adrian Valerio then followed by reaching first base on a fielding error from Almeida on the mound.
With the bases loaded and still no outs in the inning, Herrera stepped to the plate to deliver the walk-off infield single to the right side of the infield, sparking a mob of celebration just to the right of the first base bag.
Hours earlier, around the seven o'clock hour, Kingsport jumped out in front with two runs in the top of the first inning.
Anthony Dimino reached first base on a fielding error from Herrera at first base and then came around to score on an RBI double from Jeremy Wolf who followed. Jose Maria then laced a single down the left field line---plating Wolf from second base to put Kingsport up early with a 2-0 advantage.
Jose Miguel Medina then added another run to the scoreboard for the K-Mets with a solo home run to right field. The round tripper was his third of the season and second in as many days as Medina sparked Monday's four-run top of the ninth inning with a two-run home run. At the time, Medina had homered in consecutive at-bats dating back to the previous day.
Bristol's Herrera answered back quickly with a leadoff solo home run of his own to begin the bottom of the second inning. The blast was the first run of the day for Bristol and cut the deficit to two runs at 3-1.
Walter Rasquin then cleared the bases with a three-run triple with two outs in the top of the third inning to bring the lead to a commanding 6-1 score midway through three innings. Prior to the three-run hit, Kingsport loaded the bases with no outs but a force out at the plate and a strikeout put two outs on the board before Rasquin came through with the big hit.
The bottom of the third inning reaped havoc for K-Mets' starter Darwin Ramos. The righty began the inning by issuing a leadoff walk and two one-out singles to load the bases. Consecutive bases loaded walks would bring in runs No. 2 and 3 for Bristol before Siri recorded a two-out three-run double to tie the game at six runs apiece.
With the game tied 6-6 after three innings, Kingsport would break the tie in the top of the fifth following a two-out solo home run from Jose Maria. The no-doubter exited the park over the left field fence and was Maria's second long ball of the season.
The score was then 7-6 with Kingsport out in front. The score would remain the same until the bottom of the eighth inning when the Pirates tied the ballgame once more.
Almeida was charged with the loss after not recording a single out in the bottom of the ninth inning. The southpaw surrendered two walks along with the walk-off single from Herrera.
Ramos lasted only 2.2 innings on the mound-surrendering four hits and six runs altogether. Luis Correno came into pitch when Ramos exited the contest and tossed 3.1 innings of hitless and scoreless baseball. After pitching a perfect seventh inning, Kurtis Horne was charged with a blown save after surrendering the tying run in the inning that followed.
Geoff Hartlieb (3-1) picked up the win after pitching a scoreless top of the ninth inning. The right-hander struck out the side in setting down Medina, Yeffrey De Aza and William Barring all on strikes. Matt Eckelman started the contest for the Pirates and pitched five innings of seven run baseball, though only three runs were earned. Evan Piechota also pitched three innings of relief while not allowing a run in the outing.
Kingsport tallied two home runs on the evening as both Medina and Maria blasted solo home runs during the game. Aside from the game-winning hit, Herrera also hit a solo home run-his fourth of the season.
Though the K-Mets lost Game 3 of the series, the club won its first series in their last seven tries.
Kingsport will continue the road trip with a three-game slate at Elizabethton Wednesday night with a first pitch at 7:00 p.m. Coverage on the Kingsport Mets Baseball Network will begin at 6:45 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.