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Cards apply early knockout of Twins

Douglas Fritz • Updated Jun 26, 2018 at 8:55 PM

ELIZABETHTON — With stormy weather in the forecast, Johnson City wasted no time taking command.

The Cardinals struck for seven first-inning runs, and eventually earned a 9-2 win over Elizabethton in the first game of a rain-shortened doubleheader Tuesday night at Joe O’Brien Field.

The Appalachian League baseball game was called in the top of the sixth inning. Game two was postponed.

The Cardinals improved to 3-4 on the season while the Twins fell to 5-2.

Inning of decision

The top of the first started rather subtly with a Jonatan Machado walk. Moises Castillo followed with a line-drive single, and then Elizabethton gave a little help with an error to load the bases.

It made for a tough situation for Elizabethton starter Pedro Garcia, who didn’t retire any of the six batters he faced. Garcia walked Carlos Soto Jr. to force in the first run of the game.

Then Nolan Gorman singled just off the tip of Twins’ third baseman Alex Robles’ glove for an RBI single and a 2-0 lead. A wild pitch made it 3-0, and then Brian Sanchez drove in a pair of runs with a single.

After a pitching change, Machado capped off what he started with a two-run double.

“We’ve been aggressive the last couple of games,” said Cardinals’ manager Roberto Espinoza. “We just want them to keep the same aggressiveness.”

Plenty of support

Johnson City starting pitcher Noel De Jesus (2-0) made good use of the big lead and the shortened game. He wound up with a rare Appalachian League complete game, allowing six hits and two runs with no walks and three strikeouts in five innings.

“He has been consistent in his two starts,” said Espinoza. “And we wish the best for him to keep being consistent.”

The biggest challenge

After building the big lead, the Cardinals simply had to maintain their focus.

“That’s tough,” said Espinoza. “But it shows the hard work our staff has put in, keeping the guys motivated in their approach.”

Elizabethton was able to get two runs in the third inning on Lean Marrero’s two-run triple, but that was it.

Leaders

Leandro Cedeno and Donivan Williams each had two hits for the Cardinals, who have Wednesday off along with the rest of the Appy League.

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