KINGSPORT, Tenn. – The Johnson City Cardinals surged back into first place in the wild Appalachian West with a convincing 9-4 win over the Kingsport Mets Tuesday at Hunter Wright Stadium. Hector Soto fired five scoreless innings as the starter to key the important victory.
The Cards opened the game with seven runs in the first three innings. Liam Sabino had an early RBI double and an early RBI single en route to a three-hit evening. Diomedes Del Rio also finished with three hits. Jhon Torres scored three runs. The Cardinals outhit the Mets 11-5.
Soto (1-1) was wonderful as the starter, piling up five strikeouts while allowing just two hits. After the Mets tagged Luis Ortiz for three runs in the sixth, Walker Robbins and John Witkowski combined to stabilize the Cards on the mound out of the bullpen. Witkowski earned his fourth save after entering in the seventh. He did not allow a hit or a run while striking out three in 2.1 innings of work.
Johnson City once again perches in first place in the Appalachian West. The Cardinals (34-33) have the same record as the Mets (34-33) but own the tiebreaker by virtue of leading the season series six games to two. The Bristol Pirates now sit third, 0.5 games behind the Cardinals in the chase for first. Elizabethton sits fourth, just one game out of first.
With a win tomorrow in the final game of the regular season, the Cardinals will clinch the Appalachian West Division crown. If Kingsport wins and claims the division crown, the Cardinals can still qualify for the second playoff spot if Bristol loses to Danville and Elizabethton loses to Greeneville.
First pitch in the final game of the regular season is set for 6:30 p.m. ET Wednesday. The Cardinal starter is TBA. RHP Junior Santos (0-4, 4.06 ERA) is expected to start for the Mets.