PRINCETON, WV- The Rays bats made a strong statement with 11 runs on 17 hits on Monday to lead Princeton (26-24) to a 11-4 victory in the series rubber match over the Johnson City Cardinals (29-23) at H.P. Hunnicutt Field.
The victory also clinched the 2-1 series win for the Rays over the West-Division leading Cardinals.
The Rays scored in every inning but the fifth in the game, taking a 2-0 lead quickly on a first-inning two-run home run by catcher Rene Pinto, his second of the season.
Princeton continued the scoring with one run in both the second and third frames on a RBI-single by shortstop Deion Tansel and a passed ball, respectively.
Johnson City notched two in the top of the fourth, but the Rays continued their barrage with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning on a RBI-single by left fielder Trek Stemp and a 2-RBI double by Pinto.
After a quiet fifth, Princeton returned to score two runs in the sixth on another RBI-double Pinto and a sacrifice fly by third baseman Joshua Lowe.
The Rays wrapped up the night with one run in both the seventh and eighth on a RBI-single by right fielder Eleardo Cabrera and a sacrifice fly by first baseman Devin Davis, respectively.
Pinto finished the night with a team-high five RBI with a home run and two doubles while four other Rays batters added three hits each on the night.
The strong offensive performance was followed up on the mound by Rays starter Ethan Clark, who pitched five and two-thirds innings, giving up three runs on five hits. Clark earned his sixth win of the season for his efforts, tied with teammate Willy Ortiz for the most in the Appalachian League.
Reliever Bryce Zak closed out the victory with three and one-third innings of work, giving up one run on two hits for his first save of the season.
The Rays will now welcome the Bluefield Blue Jays into town for one game in the Mercer Cup series, which Princeton currently leads 4-3. The game will begin at 7 p.m. on Tue., Aug. 16 at H.P. Hunnicutt Field.
The Princeton Rays have been the proud Appalachian League affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays since 1997. Any questions may be forwarded to the Rays' front office at 304-487-2000 or [email protected].