The pitching of the Blue Jays (19-9), which had been consistent throughout the season, failed them in the eighth as it walked in two runs in a tie game — giving the Cardinals the win.
The Cardinals (11-15) struck out seven times as a team and had just five hits on the night. The key difference was that Johnson City batters drew 10 walks on the evening.
Parker Kelly got the win on the mound in relief for the Cardinals.
Cardinals right fielder Kevin Woodall Jr., a 10th-round pick out of Coastal Carolina, had a night not many players in Appalachian League history have had as he went 3-for-3 with three home runs and a walk. He finished the night with six RBIs.
Woodall came to bat in the eighth with a chance to become the first player in league history to hit four long balls in a game, but he drew a walk instead — bringing in the go-ahead run for the Cardinals.
JUST AN APPETIZER
The Cardinals, losers of six of their previous seven contests, had another rocky start to the game as Bluefield scored three quick runs in the first inning.
Cal Stevenson started off the game with slow roller back to the pitcher’s mound that somehow evaded the entire left side of the infield.
Stevenson would score from third base on an Alejandro Kirk single up the middle to give the Blue Jays the first score of the game.
Kirk and Luis De Los Santos scored later on a Rafael Lantigua pop fly that was lost in the sun by center fielder Jonatan Machado.
FILL UP THE PLATE
The Cardinals started off the home half of the first inning on a good note as Brandon Riley got a walk to lead off.
Two batters later, Woodall hit a pitch that was left out over the plate a mile to right field for his fourth home run of the year.
The Cardinals were down only 3-2 at the end of the first.
After a pair of quick outs in the bottom of the third, three straight Cards drew a walk and loaded the bases. It was a golden opportunity for Johnson City to cash in and eliminate some the woes it’s had this year with leaving runners on base.
Unfortunately for the Cards, Brian Sanchez struck out swinging and the Jays escaped the inning unscathed.
BACK FOR SECONDS
Dominic Abbadessa hit a two-run homer to left field in the top of the fifth. It was his second big fly of the year and got the Blue Jays out of a second-through-fifth-innings coma of sorts.
Woodall also hit his second dinger of the evening in the fifth, going deep to left field — almost the same spot as Abbadessa in the half inning before. This home run was of the solo variety and cut the Bluefield lead to 5-3.
Woodall came to the dish again in the bottom of the seventh with the Cards still trailing by a pair of runs.
He erased that deficit with one swing of the bat, blasting his third home run of the game to the deepest part of the park — some 450 feet out and over the wall — to knot the game at five runs apiece.
The Cardinals and the Blue Jays will continue the series at TVA Credit Union Ballpark with the second game of a three-game set on Thursday. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.