JOHNSON CITY – Legendary coach Steve Spurrier threw out the first pitch, and the Johnson City Cardinals won in dramatic style on the last one Friday at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
The Cards scored the wild walkoff win vs. the Bluefield Blue Jays in front of a crowd of 2,907 with the Head Ball Coach on hand as part of Steve Spurrier Bobblehead Night. Johnson City scored three runs in the seventh and three more in the ninth to win 7-6. Diomedes Del Rio brought in the winning run with a bases-loaded one-out walk to break a 6-6 tie in the final frame.
Malcom Nunez went deep in the first vs. Blue Jays starter Felipe Castaneda to erase an early 1-0 Bluefield lead. Nunez’s second homer of the season was the only hit of the first six innings for the Cardinals though. Castaneda spun a gem, striking out seven before ultimately taking a no-decision.
Trailing 6-1 entering the seventh, the Cardinals began the comeback vs. Bluefield relief man Yunior Hinojosa. Aaron Antonini and Carlos Soler combined to drive in three runs after Nunez, Mateo Gil and Kyle Skeels loaded the bases with no one out.
The Cards remained down 6-4 in the ninth. After twirling a scoreless eighth, Kyle Huckaby returned to the mound for the Jays. The reliever walked Gil before hitting Skeels in the leg. Victor Garcia then drew a walk to load the bases. Liam Sabino entered the game as a pinch hitter and smashed a double to the left field gap to score Gil and Skeels and tie the game at 6-6.
The Blue Jays then elected to walk pinch hitter Todd Lott to reload the bases. Two batters later, Del Rio drew a one-out, full count walk to score Garcia and win the game.
Enrique Perez (2-1) earned the win after holding the Jays off the board in the top of the ninth. Jake Sommers started the game for the Cardinals, allowing four runs in four innings. D.J. Daniels went deep twice for the Blue Jays. Huckaby (0-1) suffered the loss. Johnson City won despite being outhit 12-5.
The Cardinals (24-18) continue their seven-game homestand Saturday vs. the Blue Jays (21-21). RHP Jose Moreno (3-3, 9.18 ERA) is expected to start for Johnson City vs. RHP Sam Ryan (0-1, 5.00 ERA) for Bluefield.
It will be a Sound Off Saturday presented by Campbell’s Morell Music. Fans are invited to come out to TVA Credit Union Ballpark starting at 5:00 p.m. for live music on the concourse. The evening will also be a sesquicentennial celebration of Johnson City, which celebrates its 150th birthday this year.