Burlington’s Jesus Atencio belted a three-run home run in the fourth inning, Jake Means went deep in the fifth with a solo shot and the Royals topped Kingsport 7-4 in the opener of their three-game Appalachian League series.
The K-Mets (4-3) outhit the Royals (5-2) by a 7-6 margin but left eight runners on base and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Cristopher Pujols continued his good start to the season for Kingsport, smacking a solo homer in the fourth and driving in Sebastian Espino with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Scott Ota singled in the top of the ninth, sending L.A. Woodard home, but the K-Mets couldn’t add to the rally. Espino finished 2-for-4 but grounded into a game-ending double play.
Nate Peden (0-1), who relieved starter Junior Santos in the fourth, took the loss after giving up five earned runs in three innings of work. He struck out four.
Royals starter Angel Zerpa (1-0) went five innings, striking out four, walking one and allowing just two runs, to pick up the win.
The series with Burlington continues Tuesday, starting at 6:30 p.m. After an off day Thursday, the K-Mets go to Johnson City for a three-game set before returning home to face Bristol on Monday, July 1.