One night after breaking a five-game losing streak, the Cardinals blew a three-run ninth-inning lead as Burlington’s Jose Marquez cranked a walk-off two-run blast over the right field fence for a 6-5 win for the lowly Royals.
The Appalachian League baseball decision dropped the Cardinals to 10-15 on the season while Burlington improved to just 6-21. However, the Royals took two of three games from the Cards.
The fateful ninth
Leading 5-2, the Cards sent Parker Kelly to the mound in search of the save.
After a leadoff walk and a double, Kelly regrouped to record back-to-back ground outs back to the box.
However, the wheels came off. Jeison Guzman doubled two runs home to make it 5-4, and Marquez followed with his big fly.
Johnson City got things going with a leadoff double in the second inning from Kevin Woodall. Before the frame was over, Dariel Gomez recorded a sacrifice fly while Donivan Williams and Michael Perri added back-to-back doubles to make it 2-0.
In the third inning, Nolan Gorman doubled and scored on a sac fly from Carlos Soto Jr. to make it 3-1.
Leading 3-2 in the top of the seventh, the Cards created a little distance as Soto Jr. punched a single to center field that plated two runs.
Brandon Riley and Williams each had strong nights at the dish for the Cardinals. Riley was 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles. Williams finished with the identical line. Soto Jr. totaled three RBIs.
For Burlington, Marquez had two hits as did Bret Bewley.
Kyle Leahy shook off a tough outing in his last start against Elizabethton to work 5 2/3 innings. Leahy allowed six hits and two runs with two walks and five strikeouts.
Enrique Perez, Evan Sisk kept things scoreless until the ninth inning.
The Cardinals are off until Wednesday, when they open a three-game home set against the Bluefield Blue Jays.