Back-to-back home runs broke a tie game, as Kinston pounded out 15 hits on the way to a 6-4 win over Potomac Sunday night at Historic Grainger Stadium.
Kinston reliever Cory Burns struck out the side (all looking) to seal the victory in the ninth inning. Burns is now 12-for-12 in save opportunities with Kinston and 24-for-24 overall this season. Burns now has the second most saves in all of Minor League baseball this season.
Potomac jumped out to an early lead against Indian’s starter Austin Adams, who was making his Carolina League debut after being called up from Lake County on Friday. Steve Lombardozzi walked with one out, and then Derek Norris crushed a two-run shot to left field to give the Nationals a 2-0 advantage.
The K-Tribe picked up their new starter with a big bottom of the first inning against Potomac starter Jesse Estrada. Lucas Montero led off with an infield single and Bo Greenwell scorched an RBI double to left to score him. It was the beginning of a big night for Greenwell, who went 4-for-5 with two runs scored. In just his third game for the K-Tribe, Greenwell tied a K-Tribe season high with four base knocks.
Two batters later, Kyle Bellows lined a single to left field to tie the game at two. After Karexon Sanchez walked, Doug Pickens yanked a double to left to bring home Bellows and put Kinston on top 3-2. The first would set the tone, as Kinston racked up 15 hits, their third highest hit total of the season. The top six in the K-Tribe’s order all had multiple hits.
The P-Nats tied it in the third inning after Josh Johnson hit a leadoff double and scored on Norris' sacrifice fly. Adams pitched four innings for a no-decision in his K-Tribe debut and allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits, walked two and fanned seven.
Kinston broke the tie with back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning. Bellows ripped a homer to left on the first pitch of the inning and Sanchez followed with a solo blast to right field for a 5-3 lead. It was the second time Kinston went back-to-back this season; the first was back on April 25 against Myrtle Beach when Adam Davis and Sanchez hit consecutive homers to start the seventh inning. The K-Tribe threatened to bust the game open with two more hits in the inning, but Potomac reliever Zach Dials came on and got Justin Toole to hit into a double play to retire the side.
Estrada (3-2) took the loss, conceding five runs on ten hits in four plus innings, walking one and striking out six.
The Indians added a run in the sixth after base hits from Greenwell and Abner Abreu with one out. Sanchez stroked a single to left to score Greenwell and push the lead to 6-3. Montero, Abreu, Bellows, Sanchez, and Pickens each had two hits for Kinston.
K-Tribe reliever Travis Turek got into a bases loaded jam in the seventh inning after surrendering a walk and two hits. However, Matt Langwell came on and escaped the jam with just one run scoring on a Tyler Moore fielder's choice to cut the lead to 6-4. Langwell pitched two scoreless innings on two hits and struck out one.
Langwell picked up his Carolina League leading tenth hold of the season, his ERA is now 1.59. Cory Burns struck out the middle of Potomac’s order in the top of the ninth inning to seal the victory. Burns has a 1.84 ERA with Kinston this season, all three earned runs given up in non-save opportunities.
The K-Tribe will take on Potomac in game two of the three game series Monday night at Historic Grainger Stadium. Game time 7pm as T.J. McFarland (7-2, 1.98), who leads the CL in ERA and wins, will get the start for Kinston.
Also don’t miss a special appearance by WWF’s Ivan “The Russian Bear” Koloff.