In the biggest game of his short professional career, Malcom Nunez scored the first run and drove in the last.St. Louis' No. 16 prospect went 2-for-4 with the eventual game-winning two-run double as Rookie Advanced Johnson City topped Bristol, 7-5, in the decisive Game 3 of the Appalachian League semifinals
In the biggest game of his short professional career, Malcom Nunez scored the first run and drove in the last.
St. Louis' No. 16 prospect went 2-for-4 with the eventual game-winning two-run double as Rookie Advanced Johnson City topped Bristol, 7-5, in the decisive Game 3 of the Appalachian League semifinals on Sunday at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
Gameday box score
"It was great to see Malcom producing in that high-level situation," Johnson City manager Roberto Espinoza said. "He's been really helpful through the whole season."
Nunez, who picked up a hit in every game of the series, lined a single to right field to lead off the fourth inning against Pirates righty Adrian Florencio. The next three Cardinals singled and Chandler Redmond singled in the 18-year-old for the game's first run as Johnson City took an early 3-0 lead.
Bristol rallied back in the fifth. After Josh Bissonette's two-RBI double to right, Aaron Shackleford smoked a two-run dinger to right off of right-hander Jose Moreno.
The Cardinals reclaimed the lead in the sixth. With one on and one out against righty reliever Yordi Rosario, Redmond lined a two-run homer to right-center for a 5-4 advantage.
"Chandler's been having a great season in all aspects and he had another great day for us," Espinoza said.
Bristol tied the game back up in the seventh. Matt Morrow notched his third hit of the game and advanced to second on a throwing error by second baseman Kevin Vargas. Bissonette flew to center for the second out, but Morrow scored to knot the game on a throwing miscue by center fielder Trejyn Fletcher.
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That set the stage for Nunez in the bottom of the frame. With one out, St. Louis No. 23 prospect Mateo Gil doubled to left and seventh-ranked Jhon Torres was hit by a pitch.
"When you are at the top of the lineup, you're gonna be in those situations often," Espinoza said. "He and the guys like Mateo and Jhon, they've been performing in those clutch at-bats."
Espinoza said Cardinals hitting coach Brian Burgamy has been helping the players prepare for moments and situations like this all season.
"But in the end, it's them against the pitcher," the 30-year-old skipper said. "When they get into the batter's box, that's on them."
On Rosario's first pitch after a mound visit, the 5-foot-11 Cuba native lined a two-bagger to left that scored the go-ahead runs. Nunez finished the series 4-for-12 with three runs scored and a pair of RBIs.
In other Appy League action:
Royals 5, Yankees 4 (17 innings)
Without the designated runner in place, Burlington and Pulaski battled through 17 frames for a Championship Series ticket. Vinnie Pasquantino led off the decisive frame with a successful bunt. Pinch-runner Jay Charleston advanced on an errant pickoff attempt by Kenlly Montas, then crossed the plate on Kevon Jackson's single to center off Kevin Milam. Pasquantino reached base six times in the game with three singles and three walks while scoring twice. Royals No. 28 prospectMichael Massey racked up three hits and a run scored. Gameday box score
Shlomo Sprung is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @sprungonsports</a