However, the deficit was just too much to overcome in a 13-10 loss to the Elizabethton Twins at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
Elizabethton, which had 17 hits and 12 walks, scored 12 runs over the first five innings to race out to a 10-run lead. The Cardinals rallied with eight runs over the final three innings before Twins closer Zach Neff ended the game with a pair of strikeouts.
Elizabethton (14-8) stayed a game ahead of the Kingsport Mets in the Appalachian League West Division standings.
"You should put up double figures when you put up that kind of offense," Elizabethton manager Ray Smith said. "But the Cardinals, they swing the bat too. They get up there and hack. We thought when we had the numbers on the board, it was an opportunity to get some guys some work. It was a good game which got ugly in a hurry, but that's the way rookie league is.
"It's a game of adjustments. The pitchers adjust to the hitters and vice versa. That's what professional players do."
Johnson City, which ended with 13 hits, fell to 9-12 after getting swept in a four-game series. Steve Turco, who managed the Cardinals for six seasons in the 1990s, called the shots Friday with current manager Robert Espinoza taking a couple of vacation days. Turco, who manages the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, liked what he saw with the rally.
"That's what we hope for, that these kids will play to the end and be resilient," Turco said. "They always battle back and they did it again. They fell just short. If we could have kept the deficit down, maybe we could have won. But to see them battle back, that was exciting."
THE HIT PARADE
Four players for the Twins ended up with three hits. Yunior Severino, Chris Williams and Alex Robles all went 3-for-5. Ryan Jeffers finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Albee Weiss hit his fourth home run, a solo shot in the fourth inning, and lead-off Lean Marrero scored three runs.
Elizabethton starter Josh Winder earned the win, striking out six, while giving up six hits and two runs over five innings. Moises Gomez, Juan Gamez and Derek Molina all came in relief.
Johnson City's Noel De Jesus got the loss after giving up eight runs and 10 hits over the first 3 1/3 innings.
The Cardinals ended up with 13 hits and eight walks. Dariel Gomez led the way, going 3-for-5 with a triple and a double. Leandro Cedeno finished 3-for-5 with a double and two runs score. Zach Jackson added a 2-for-4 night at the plate.
Elizabethton goes on the road for a three-game series with Kingsport, with the first game set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Johnson City travels to Burlington for a three-game series with the Royals, also starting Saturday at 6:30 p.m.