KINGSPORT, Tenn. – The Johnson City Cardinals are the 2019 Appalachian West Division regular season champions. The Cards sealed the division crown with 9-7 slugfest win in Kingsport Wednesday.
Diomedes Del Rio hit the first of three Johnson City homers in the second. Facing Mets starter Junior Santos (0-5), Del Rio hit the fourth Johnson City grand slam of the summer to build a 4-0 lead. The homer was his second of the season. Victor Garcia added a solo blast, his third of the year, in the fourth. Chandler Redmond later ripped his 12th homer of the year, a solo blast, in the sixth.
Starter Julio Puello threw 90 pitches over five innings in a gritty, impressive performance. Four of his five innings were scoreless. Puello allowed four runs in the third as the Mets evened the score, but he was able to settle down, ultimately stranding men on the corners in the fifth with the Cards up 7-4. Puello improved to 5-4 on the season by striking out six.
Cardinal hurlers would finish with 14 strikeouts. Will Guay allowed one unearned run in 2.1 innings of relief behind Puello before Dylan Pearce notched his second save of the year. Guay struck out three. Pearce struck out five, including Wilfred Astudillo to end the ballgame. Johnson City pitching held Kingsport to a 2-for-16 mark with men in scoring position.
Jhon Torres continued to be a star for the Cardinals. The outfielder’s late-season brilliance continued with a three-hit evening. He also robbed Mets center fielder Tanner Murphy of a home run in the sixth. Garcia finished with three hits while also posting two RBIs and two runs scored.
Jhon Torres continued to be a star for the Cardinals. The outfielder’s late-season brilliance continued with a three-hit evening. He also robbed Mets center fielder Tanner Murphy of a home run in the sixth. Garcia also finished with three hits while also posting two RBIs and two runs scored. The division championship is the eighth for the Cards since 1986.
Johnson City concludes the regular season 35-33. The team will meet Bristol (34-33) in the first round of the Appalachian League playoffs. The first game of the three-game series will be held at Boyce Cox Field on Friday. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. Starters for both teams are TBA.
The Cards will host the Pirates for a second game Saturday and, if necessary, a third game Sunday. Saturday will be a 6:30 p.m. first pitch. Sunday would be a 5:00 p.m. first pitch.