The Axmen's inaugural season opener didn't quite go as planned.
Kingsport lost to the Bluefield Ridge Runners, 9-6, as the 2021 Appalachian League got underway.
The two teams combined for 15 pitchers as each manager was easing their staff into this 54-game grind. Fordham's Cameron Knox picked up the win for Bluefield, throwing an inning without allowing a run in the seventh inning.
The game started on a harsh note for Kingsport, as Bluefield's Ben Harris smacked a 409-foot solo home run in the first. However, the packed crowd had a chance to make some noise when Anthony Tulimero walloped a fastball over the left field fence for a two-run, go-ahead home run for Kingsport in the second to give the Axmen a 2-1 lead.
The fireworks came a day early, as Kingsport took the lead in the sixth with a three-run frame, thanks to another knock by Tulimero, this time an RBI double to left-center, giving Kingsport a 5-3 lead. That was followed by a Cal Hezja sacrifice fly to double up on Bluefield.
The Ridge Runners struck back in the seventh with a three-spot of their own, then took the lead for good with three runs in the eighth to take a 9-6 advantage. Kyle Scrape provided big time relief and struck out three in the 9th.
Bluefield's bullpen, however, finished the job in dominant fashion with three scoreless frames to end the game.
The two squads finish the two-game set in Kingsport on Friday night.