The Cards won a thrilling Appalachian League West division de facto title game 9-7 and will be playing the Bristol Pirates beginning Friday.
The Mets were eliminated from contention when Bristol defeated Danville 4-2.
The offense got started early for the Cardinals as Diomedes Del Rio hit Johnson City’s fourth grand slam of the season in the top of the second on an 0-2 pitch.
The fifth-through-eighth hitters in the lineup for Johnson City were a combined 8-for-18 with eight runs scored and accounted for seven of the eight RBIs handed out.
METS GET BACK IN IT
Kingsport fought back to score four runs in the third and tied the game.
Wilfred Astudillo smoked a ball down the right field line for a three-run home run with two outs. That got the crowd back into the game, but it didn’t last long.
Chandler Redmond — who finished 2-for-5 with a solo homer in the sixth — led off the next inning for Johnson City with a single. Then Victor Garcia came to the plate and hammered a ball to left for a two-run homer that put the Cards back in front.
They never relinquished the lead after that.
IT’S NOT YOUR NIGHT
In the fifth inning with runners on the corners and two outs, Scott Ota hit a high chopper down the first base line that went over the first baseman’s head and looked to be a run-scoring double.
However, home plate umpire Caleb Devier called the ball foul, much to the displeasure of the Kingsport crowd. Ota flew out to centerfield on the next pitch to end the threat.
In the following frame for Kingsport, Tanner Murphy hit a long fly ball to deep left field that looked like it was going to clear the wall. But Cardinals left fielder Jhon Torres made a spectacular catch to rob Murphy of a solo homer.
In the ninth trailing 9-5, Kingsport’s Jaylen Palmer reached on an two-out error, and Andres Regnault hit a moonshot home run off the top of the left field light pole to cut the JC lead to two. But Astudillo struck out to end the game.
Johnson City’s Julio Puello earned the win after going five innings and striking out six. Relievers Will Guay and Dylan Pierce combined for the final four innings and gave up just one earned run and two hits. Pierce struck out five of the seven batters he faced and earned the save.