Roach, the starting pitcher for the Johnson City Cardinals, gave up home runs to the first two batters he faced and a long night appeared in order.
Instead, the 23-year-old right-hander didn’t allow another hit, holding the Kingsport Mets in check through five innings in the Cards’ 7-4 victory Friday night in an Appalachian League game at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
Roach didn’t figure in the decision, but his performance kept the Cardinals in the game long enough for them to rally for a victory.
“He was great,” Cardinals manager Roberto Espinoza said. “He was able to put that, the home runs, in the past.
“It was awesome, a great job by him.”
Johnson City broke a 4-4 tie with a three-run sixth inning. Chandler Redmond’s solo homer put the Cardinals up 5-4, and Carlos Soler and Ben Baird added RBI singles to make it 7-4.
The Cardinals (5-4) moved within half a game of the first-place K-Mets (6-4) in the Appy League’s West Division.
The K-Mets jumped on top when Kennie Taylor and Scott Ota each belted solo shots over the left-field wall for a quick 2-0 Kingsport lead.
“We didn’t do too much after that,” K-Mets manager Rich Donnelly said. “Good pitching with two strikes.”
Roach settled down after the blasts, holding Kingsport hitless over the next four innings and retiring 15 of the next 17 batters he saw before being relieved by Tyler Peck to start the sixth.
View the photo gallery from the game
Johnson City wasted little time in coming back. A three-run bottom of the first inning — keyed by a two-run double by Zach Johnson and a run-scoring double by Terry Fuller — gave the Cards a 3-2 advantage.
Johnson City added another run in the fourth inning when Baird grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.
Peck walked the first two batters he faced in the sixth and then gave up one of the longest singles imaginable to Jaylen Palmer on a ball that banged high off the wall in left-center field. Palmer had to stay at first when the runners held up, not knowing whether the ball would be caught.
With the bases loaded, Cole Kleszcz lined a sacrifice fly to right field, making it 4-3, and Cristopher Pujols followed with a two-out bloop single to tie the game.
The Cardinals scored three times in the sixth when Peck (1-0) was still in the game, making him the winning pitcher.
Kingsport used five pitchers. Starter Benito Dominguez was pulled after allowing three runs in two-thirds of an inning. Nixon Silva, the third pitcher, gave up the decisive runs in the sixth.
The teams will play the second game of the series Saturday at TVA Credit Union Ballpark, starting at 6:30 p.m.
It’s Campbell’s Morrell Music Soundoff Saturday and the Dimestore Cowboys, a local country band, will be playing in the concourse before the game. Gates open at 5 p.m.
It is also Andrew Knizner bobblehead night.