Johnson City needed a win in the biggest way, and Malcom Nunez provided the power to keep the team alive. The Cardinals' No. 16 prospect homered, drove in two runs and reached base three times as the Cardinals beat Burlington, 7-2, on Tuesday to force a decisive Game 3 in the Appalachian
Johnson City needed a win in the biggest way, and Malcom Nunez provided the power to keep the team alive.
The Cardinals' No. 16 prospect homered, drove in two runs and reached base three times as the Cardinals beat Burlington, 7-2, on Tuesday to force a decisive Game 3 in the Appalachian League Finals at Burlington Athletic Stadium.
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Nunez got in on the action early, drawing a first-inning walk after seventh-ranked Cardinals prospect Jhon Torres delivered a two-run double. Two batters after the free pass, Nunez scored on a two-run single by Carlos Soler.
Following another walk in the third and a groundout in the fifth, the 18-year-old broke out the big lumber in the seventh to extend the lead. Nunez blasted a 1-2 offering from right-hander Cruz Noriega over the left-field wall for a two-run shot.
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The Havana native got his first taste of professional ball stateside this year when he joined Class A Peoria on May 12, but he batted .183 through his first 21 games in the Midwest League. He was assigned to Johnson City on June 3 and saw his numbers improve to .254/.336/.385 in 37 Appy League contests.
Nunez blasted his first two homers of the season with Johnson City and made it three with his big blast in Game 2. It's not the first time he's come through with a big hit in the playoffs as the third baseman ripped the game-winning double in the deciding game of the semifinals against Bristol.
Todd Lott went 3-for-5 with an RBI, while Soler contributed two knocks to round out the Cardinals offense.
On the hill, Hector Soto (1-0) made his longest start of the season, yielding three hits and two walks with six strikeouts over 5 2/3 scoreless frames. John Witkowski finished up to notch the save, giving up two runs on four hits while fanning three.
Seventh-rounder Noah Murdock (0-1) surrendered four runs on three hits in one inning for the Royals.
Game 3 is Wednesday in Burlington.
Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt.