Backed by homers from Vinnie Pasquantino and Jake Means, Rookie Advanced Burlington got a leg up in a rematch of the 2016 Appalachian League Championship Series.
The Royals took Game 1 of the best-of-3 Finals, routing Johnson City, 9-2, on Monday at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
Gameday box score
Burlington took control in the top of the first inning against Julio Puello, who walked leadoff batter Diego Hernandez on five pitches. He stole second base and scampered home in the wake of two throwing errors on the play, the first by catcher Aaron Antonini and the other by Cardinals No. 17 prospect Trejyn Fletcher in center field. With two down, Pasquantino lifted a 2-2 offering over the right-field fence.
The Royals added another two-spot in the third. Jack Gethings led off with a double to right and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Hernandez. Maikel Garcia beat out an infield single to chase home Gethings, stole second and scored on a base hit to left by 28th-ranked Royals prospect Michael Massey.
A three-run sixth finished off Puello (0-1) after 90 pitches, 60 for strikes. Massey and Pasquantino delivered back-to-back knocks ahead of Means' blast over the wall in left-center. The 20-year-old right-hander was tagged with seven runs on seven hits and a walk. He struck out six.
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Burlington capped the scoring in the eighth. Mikey Filia singled to center off right-hander Wilberto Rivera to plate William Hancock, who had reached on a throwing error by Cardinals No. 23 prospect shortstop Mateo Gil. Two batters later, Filia scored on Gethings' single to center.
Royals starter Heribert Garcia (1-0) yielded two runs on two hits and a pair of walks while whiffing six in five frames. He tossed 75 pitches, 48 for strikes.
Solo homers by Chandler Redmond and Carlos Soler accounted for Johnson City's scoring.
Game 2 will be played Tuesday night at Burlington Athletic Stadium.