When it rained, the Rays soared.
Brandon Martin clubbed a bases-loaded double to highlight a five-run fourth inning, and the Princeton Rays improved to 3-0 on the season with a 15-2 Appalachian League rout over the Kingsport Mets in a lightning-delayed decision on front of 541 spectators on Thursday night at Hunnicutt Field.
Princeton (3-0), which is the only undefeated team in the league after three games, will host Pulaski tonight at 7:05 p.m. The Rays will honor the Princeton Tigers’ state championship baseball team prior to the game.
With the score knotted at 1-1 through three innings, streaks of lightning and threatening skies forced a 37 minute delay. When the game resumed, the rain finally started, and Rays welcomed it by sending nine batters to the plate, scoring five runs on four hits in the fourth.
While Princeton replaced starter Kevin James on the mound after the delay, Kingsport stuck with starter Porsio Reyes. Daniel Bream picked up in the win in relief for the Rays, but Reyes was tagged with the loss.
“We have a rule that after 30 minutes a starting pitcher has to come out so we went with Bream, which is another veteran guy,” Princeton manager Michael Johns said. “(James) gave us three strong innings that we needed out of him and the bullpen did the rest so that was nice.”
Reyes was greeted in the fourth as the rain fell by Reid Redman with a double, one of his three hits in the game, and scored one of his three runs on a single by Omar Narvaez.
It never got better for the Mets. Princeton loaded the bases when John Alexander was hit by a pitch, Ismel Autunez followed with a single and James Harris Jr. drew a walk. Martin then slugged a double to the left field fence to score all three runs for the 6-1 lead.
Princeton added nine more runs over the next three innings to send much of the small crowd home early. Ariel Soriano had an RBI triple in the fifth, while Narvaez drove in a run with a single in the sixth, and Oscar Hernandez followed with a two-run triple.
Kingsport used four pitchers, but none had an answer for the Rays. Princeton added four more runs in the seventh without a hit. The Mets struggled all night on the mound, walking seven, unleashing five wild pitches and plunking three batters.
“We swung the bats really well. We have had a lot of quality at-bats in the last three nights, and that is good to see,” Johns said. “We smoked a lot of balls last night, and hit a lot of balls hard tonight so it is good to see out of our hitters. We really had some competitive at-bats.”
Redman led the Rays with two doubles, a single and three runs scored. Soriano and Narvaez had two hits, two runs scored and drove in a pair of runs apiece. Autenez and Harris scored two runs apiece.
Kingsport took the 1-0 lead in the first when Eris Pequero bunted the first pitch of the game from James for a single. He scored on a two-out opposite field double down the right field line by Jeyckol DeLeon.
Princeton answered in its half of the first when Granden Goetzman singled, moved to third on a single by Redman and came home on a sacrifice fly to center field by Soriano.
That is where the game stood when the delay occurred. It was all Princeton from that point.
Kingsport managed seven hits off four Princeton pitchers, including just two after the first inning. Pequero led the Mets with two hits and two runs, scoring on a wild pitch in the eighth.
Eleven Mets in a row were retired from portions of the first through the fifth. R.J. Davis and William Gabay pitched the final two innings for the Rays, whose pitchers struck out nine batters and walked just one.
Three wins are nice, but No. 4 would be even better tonight against the Mariners.
“We’ve got to go back to work tomorrow. These three games are over,” Johns said. “I am proud of them, especially last night. We were down five and came back and tonight to put it on them after the rain delay, I am really proud of them.
“We will go back to work tomorrow. You know how it is, in baseball every day you have got to tee it up and play. We’ll be ready to go and anxious to see Pulaski.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
At Hunnicutt Field
Kingsport……..…100 000 010 _ 2 7 1
Princeton…………100 523 40x _ 15 12 0
Persio Reyes, Edioglis Villasmil (5), Zachary Dotson (6), Luis Rengel (7) and Alex Machillanada, Tyler Carpenter (7). Kevin James, Daniel Bream (4), R.J. Davis (8), William Gabay (9) and Omar Narvaez. W_Bream (1-0); L_Reyes (0-1). HR_none. Att_541.
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