The Johnson City Doughboys dropped a back-and-forth game at home to the Bristol State Liners on Thursday, losing 7-6 in the season opener at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
The Doughboys (0-1) gave themselves a chance when Cherokee Nichols (NW Florida State) doubled to right field with one out in the bottom of the ninth. However, Bristol pitcher Jake DeLisi retired the next two batters to end the game.
Bristol (1-0) used six pitchers while Johnson City utilized eight arms. Bryson Hamlet (1-0) earned the win for the State Liners.
Trailing 4-0 in the third inning, the Johnson City bats began to come alive. After Stephen Ondina (FIU), Damani Thomas (Edward Water College) and Jaxson Crull (Oklahoma State) all reached to load the bases, Ashton King (ETSU) singled to drive in one run. Cade Stumbler (Oklahoma State) grounded into a fielder’s choice to bring home another run and Conner James drew a bases-loaded walk to score the third run.
The game would be tied in the fourth inning, 4-4, when Thomas scored from third on a wild pitch. Thomas ended his night going 2-for-3 with three runs scored.
The State Liners grabbed the lead back in the fifth to make it 5-4, but the Doughboys responded in the sixth with a Crull triple that scored Thomas and a King sacrifice fly that brought in Crull. With all 3,012 fans in attendance at a fever pitch, Johnson City took their first lead, 6-5.
Yet, Bristol would scratch across another run in the seventh and another run in the eighth, then held on for dear life in the ninth as Johnson City threatened with a man in scoring position.
Jan Figueroa (FIU), Steven Casey (FIU) and Andrew Ronne (ETSU) each tossed scoreless innings for the Doughboys.
Isabella Robb, the field umpire for Thursday’s game, made history as the first female umpire in Appalachian League history.
Both teams are off Friday.
Johnson City will be on the road Saturday to face the Kingsport Axmen, while Bristol will return home Saturday to take on the Elizabethton River Riders.