That’s because the Johnson City Cardinals pounded out a dozen hits and pasted a dozen runs on the scoreboard en route to a 12-5 victory over the Elizabethton Twins. Julio Rodriguez was the catalyst for the seven-run fifth inning that blew the game wide open for the Cardinals. Rodriguez had a two-run homer and a two-run double in the inning and finished the night with five RBIs.
Coupled with a pair of losses by Greeneville in a doubleheader against Kingsport, Johnson City’s sixth-straight win moved the Cards one game ahead of the Astros in the Appalachian League West Division standings. The Cards (27-22) are now alone in second place, just a game and a half behind the division-leading Twins (29-21).
Elizabethton struck first on Saturday by plating two runs in the top of the first inning. A single by Carson Crites followed by an RBI triple off the bat of Jose Miranda put the Twins on the board, and an RBI sac fly by J.J. Robinson staked them to a 2-0 lead.
Johnson City tied the game in the bottom of the second when Imeldo Diaz hit an RBI single to right field, and an errant throw by the Twins allowed Brady Whalen to come home to tie the game at 2. The Cards took the lead for good in the bottom of the third on an RBI groundout by Rodriguez and pushed their lead to 4-2 in the fourth thanks to an RBI single by Carlos Rodriguez.
After enduring a rocky first inning, Johnson City starter Zach Prendergast (2-0) settled in nicely. The righty didn’t allow another hit in five innings of work, finishing the night with two runs on two hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
While Julio Rodriguez swung a big bat in the decisive fifth frame, a lot of what happened to the Twins was self-inflicted. Elizabethton walked five batters and hit another to help fuel Johnson City’s rally. All told, four Twins pitchers combined to walk eight batters and hit four more.
The two teams will continue their four-game set on Sunday night at TVA Credit Union Ballpark. The first pitch is set for 6 o’clock.