BURLINGTON, N.C. - Johnson City jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, but it was 3B Brady Whalen 's RBI single in the seventh inning that proved to be the difference, as the Cardinals earned the series victory with a 9-8 triumph over the Burlington Royals on Wednesday afternoon at Burlington Athletic
BURLINGTON, N.C. - Johnson City jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, but it was 3B Brady Whalen 's RBI single in the seventh inning that proved to be the difference, as the Cardinals earned the series victory with a 9-8 triumph over the Burlington Royals on Wednesday afternoon at Burlington Athletic Stadium.
With the win, the Redbirds improved to 12-15 on the season and captured their first series in the month of July. Burlington's loss dropped them to 9-17 on the campaign.
Tied at eight with two in the top of the seventh, LF Wadye Ynfante (3-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, SO) drew a walk and swiped second base to move into scoring position. Whalen (2-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, SO) made his counterpart's effort pay off, as the 19-year-old slapped a single to right. Ynfante scored from second to give the Redbirds a 9-8 lead.
That was all Johnson City needed, as RHP Will Changarotty (2.0 IP, SO) and LHP Fabian Blanco (2.0 IP, 3 SO) retired the final eight batters of the game to seal the win.
The Cardinals utilized the long ball to grab an early five-run advantage. 2B Irving Lopez (1-4, R, RBI, BB, SO) started the contest with a walk and - on 3-2 pitch - CF Chase Pinder (1-5, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SO) walloped a fly ball to left. The shot sailed over the fence for a home run - the first of his career - to put Johnson City up, 2-0. On the very next pitch, Ynfante hammered a ball over the left-field wall for a solo shot - his third of the year- making it 3-0.
Later in the frame, with two on and two out, C Cameron Knight (0-3, R, BB, 2 SO) was plunked by a pitch to load the bases. RF Carlos Talavera (0-3, RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO) drew a free pass with the sacks full to extend the advantage to 4-0. Lopez - the 10th batter of the inning - was hit-by-a-pitch to bring in a run and cap off the five-run frame.
Burlington, however, answered back with four runs in the bottom of the inning. With a man on second and two out, LF Reed Rohlman (3-3, R, 2 RBI) ripped a run scoring single to left and two batters later CF Cal Jones (1-4, R, 3B, 2 RBI, SO) smashed a two-RBI triple to center, cutting the Cards lead to 5-3. DH Jesus Atencio (1-4, RBI, 2 SO) added a run-scoring infield single to pull Burlington within 5-4.
Both teams added a pair in the second, as Whalen clubbed a two-run shot to right - his second of the campaign - to stretch the Redbirds' lead up to 7-4. The Royals answered with a sacrifice fly to center by RF Seuly Matias (1-4, R, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 SO) and another run-scoring knock by Rohlman, cutting it back to 7-6.
In the third, Johnson City received a walk to Knight and - two batters later - Lopez roped a single into right-center. The relay throw in was dropped, which allowed the Cardinals' backstop to score, putting the Redbirds back up two, 8-6.
The Royals were finally able to tie it in the fourth, as SS Jeison Guzman (0-3, R, BB, SO) walked and Matias followed with a triple to deep center. Both runners scored, as the 18-year-old crossed the plate on a defensive mishap to tie it at eight.
Changarotty (2.0 IP, SO) allowed one baserunner on a hit-by-pitch in two scoreless innings to earn his second victory of the season. Blanco (2.0 IP, 3 SO) retired all six men he faced to garner his second save of the 2017 campaign.
RHP Luis Alcantara (3.0 IP, H, R, ER, BB, 2 SO) surrendered just one run on one hit in three innings, but was saddled with his third defeat for the Royals.
Neither starter received a decision on Wednesday. Cardinals RHP Johan Oviedo (5.0 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO) yielded eight runs in five innings, while Burlington's LHP Joey Markus (0.2 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB) failed to make it out of the first inning.
Ynfante (3-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, SO) sparked the Johnson City offense, finishing just a triple shy of the cycle. Whalen (2-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, SO) reached base four times and drove in a season-high-tying three runs.
The Cardinals will go for their first series sweep of the season on Thursday, as they are slated to send RHP Franyel Casadilla (0-2, 8.04 ERA) to the mound. RHP Sal Biasi (0-0, 3.60 ERA) is expected to take the ball for the Royals.
The Cardinals Pre-Game Show will kick off the broadcast at 6:45 p.m. ET, leading up to the 7:00 p.m. ET start at Burlington Athletic Stadium. Thursday evening's contest can be heard on NBCSportsTriCities.com, JCCardinals.com or via the TuneIn Radio and MiLB First Pitch apps.
Following the six-game road trip, the Redbirds will return home for a six-set homestand, starting with a three-contest series against the Danville Braves, the rookie affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, starting on Friday, July 21. It will be Salute to Heroes Night at the ballpark, as Johnson City will honor veterans past and present with select discounts inside the stadium. Following that night's game, there will be a spectacular Fireworks Show presented by Xtreme Painting.
Single-game tickets are still available and can be purchased online at JCCardinals.com or by calling the Cardinals' Ticket Office at (423) 461-4866.
ABOUT THE JOHNSON CITY CARDINALS
The Johnson City Cardinals are the Rookie affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Members of the ten-team Appalachian League, Cardinals baseball has been entertaining families and fans of America's national pastime in the East Tennessee region for 80 years. To learn more about the Johnson City Cardinals, visit www.jccardinals.com.