The Johnson City Cardinals continued their winning ways Thursday, thanks to late clutch two-out hitting to capture a 5-3 win over Bristol.
After the seventh-inning stretch, the Cardinals’ Vaughn Bryan hit a chopper that went off pitcher Thaddius Lowry’s glove. On the play Rowan Wick came in from third and pinch-runner Lance Jefferies, Jr. kept running from second and slid in for the go-ahead score. Jefferies was pinch running for Kyle Grieshaber, who reached on a walk earlier in the inning. Right before the lead-changing at bat, Jonathan Keener provide a fly ball deep into the right-field corner and both Cardinals base runners advanced 90 feet to get into scoring position.
“A couple of good at-bats there by Bryan and Wick and good base running by Jefferies to sneak in on the deflection,” Johnson City manager Joe Kruzel said. “He kept running hard and it gave us a chance to score.”
An inning earlier, Ronnierd Garcia powered a two-out, two-run home run to cut into the margin. That was after Luis Perez’s single to center earlier in the inning. Those two runs came off starter Jordan Guerrero, who completed six innings and scattered four hits.
Johnson City, now at 7-1 on the year, added another two-out RBI off the bat of Wick in the eighth inning for an insurance run. Kenny Peoples-Walls reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second to get into scoring position before Wick’s at bat.
All of the two-out damage was done Thursday as the Cardinals entered the contest with a .179 batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs through the first seven games.
“We’re looking for quality at bats, and later on they will start producing in those situations, which they did today,” Kruzel said.
Bristol took the lead in opening inning on the homestanding Cardinals. Back-to-back singles from Thurman Hall and Toby Thomas put runners on the corners to start the 11:40 a.m. contest before an RBI groundout by Nolan Earley.
An inning later the visitors struck again when on Mitch Glasser’s ground ball deep in the hole on the left side of the infield, Peoples-Walls throw sailed wide at second base and Cody Yount continued to race around the bases to score.
The White Sox extended their lead when Angel Rosario provided a sacrifice fly to center with the bases loaded of White Sox players in the fifth.
The Bristol bats were quieted by Norge Paredes. He finished the game off with four scoreless innings of relief for his first victory of the season. He struck out four, walked one and allowed a lone hit in his third appearance in 2013.
Johnson City will conclude the home stand at 7 p.m. Friday when the Cardinals and White Sox play the series finale at East Tennessee State’s Thomas Stadium.