Down by four runs early, Johnson City rallied to take a 9-4 win over the Kingsport Mets on Saturday night at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
The Cardinals earned their fifth win in seven Appalachian League games, and all five have been come-from-behind victories — three times after facing deficits of four or more runs.
Chandler Redmond’s two-run home run to left field highlighted a sixth inning in which the Cardinals took the lead. A 32nd-round draft pick out of Gardner-Webb, Redmond also had a pair of RBI doubles as the designated hitter.
Redmond finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored. His two-run blast was his third home run in the last four games.
With Johnson City less than three hours from Redmond’s home, his parents and old college coach have all been able to attend games.
“I’m just seeing the ball really well, trying to stay within myself and hunt the fastball,” Redmond said. “Coming into a new place is odd at first, but I’m starting to feel at home and really good right now.
“With it being so close, it’s been good to see some familiar faces in the stands,” Redmond added.
Mateo Gil was also 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored for Johnson City.
While early in the season, the Cardinals (6-4) took a half-game lead over the K-Mets (6-5) and the Elizabethton Twins (6-5) in the West Division standings.
“That’s a great job in mental preparation by our hitting coach, Brian Burgamy,” Johnson City manager Roberto Espinoza said referring to the comeback wins. “That’s what these guys are prepared to do and ready for.
“Redmond had an outstanding game. He’s a kid who we are expecting a lot of offense from and he’s been exactly what we got from the scouts.”
Kingsport took the early advantage thanks to two-run home runs by Cole Kleszcz and Jaylen Palmer in back-to-back innings.
Kleszcz, a 33rd-round draft pick out of Valencia, California, sent a two-run shot over the left-field wall in the second inning. Palmer, a 22nd-round pick from New York City, followed in the third with a two-run homer to left-center.
Cameron Dulle (1-0) got the win, throwing just one inning. Yadiel Flores (0-1) was charged with the loss after giving up three runs over three innings.
Both teams’ starters left the game early.
Kingsport’s Michel Otanez lasted three innings, giving up six hits and three runs. Johnson City’s Will Guay threw 2 1/3 innings, also giving up six hits, along with four runs.
Johnson City answered the early scores with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Gil lined an RBI single to center field and Redmond followed with an RBI double.
The Cardinals scored another run in the fourth when Razzy Ozuna raced home on a wild pitch, but they left the bases loaded. The fifth also started out promising for Johnson City, which put runners on first and second with no outs. JC, however, failed to capitalize.
The sixth was a different tale. Gil’s RBI double to right field preceded Redmond’s home run. Redmond’s second RBI double and a two-run home run by Liam Sabino added plenty of insurance in the eighth inning.
The Cardinals will try for the weekend sweep in the series finale, set for Sunday at 5 p.m.
Jose Moreno is penciled in as the Johnson City starter. Junior Santos, a 17-year-old, 6-foot-8 right hander, is slated to take the mound for the Mets.