Sun Photo by Jim Feltman Greeneville Astros shortstop Jiovanni Mier prepares to tag out Princeton's Tomas Francisco at second on Tuesday night at Pioneer Park. The Astros defeated the Rays 6-2 in their season finale.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
(Last modified: 2009-09-02 13:40:22)
Source: The Greeneville Sun
BY JOE BYRD
ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
Greeneville did its part Tuesday night to avoid finishing in the division cellar for the third straight year with a season-ending 6-2 home win over Princeton, but Bristol didn't cooperate.
The Sox defeated West Division champ Elizabethton for the second straight night to finish a half game up on the Astros in the battle to stay off the bottom.
Despite wrapping up the 2009 Appalachian League season with a 27-40 record, the Astros were glad to close it out with a solid victory in front of the home fans.
"It was tough," said manager Rodney Linares. "We battled through a lot of injuries. They are a great group of kids. They never let up. They battled through a lot of adversity and they ended up on a good note here tonight."
The Astros jumped on the Rays early Tuesday night and ended the year in style.
Jiovanni Mier got it started with an RBI triple in the bottom of the first, and Aaron Bray drove in a run with a chopper over the third baseman's head to give Greeneville a 2-0 advantage.
The Astros never trailed.
Princeton halved the lead with a run in the top of the third. It could have been worse but Astros starter Angel Gonzalez (5-4) got Rays slugger Ryan Wiegand to strike out with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Mier drove in another run in the bottom of the third to make it a 3-1 game, then Greeneville really opened things up.
Bubby Williams crushed a homer out to deep left in the fifth to make it 4-1. Williams hit an RBI double in the seventh and Mier drove in his third run of the night to give the Astros a 6-1 advantage.
Princeton made things interesting in the top of the ninth. The Rays got a run and three hits off Astros closer Abraham Gonzalez. Princeton had runners in scoring position with two away when Gonzalez struck out Ramon Novas swinging to bring to a close the game and the 2009 regular season.
Some of the Greeneville Astros players will be moved up in the Houston organization now that their rookie league season is complete. Linares said don't be surprised to see some of them make it to the big club in the future.
"The future is bright for these guys, the future is bright," Linares said. "You will see a lot of their banners up there (on the concourse where players who have been called up to the Majors are honored) in the next couple of years," Linares said.
This year marked the sixth straight season since coming to Greeneville that the Astros have led the Appalachian League in attendance.
They brought 49,293 people through the turnstiles this year, averaging 1,449 fans over 34 home games to eclipse the rest of the league. Kingsport was a distant second with a 1,086 average.
Astros GM David Lane said he couldn't be happier.
"We are very proud, but it's really a testament to the city of Greeneville," Lane said. "The people of this town are behind their baseball no matter what. To lead the league again for the sixth year in a row is outstanding, and I give it back to the fans. I just want to thank the fans, the season ticket holders and everyone else who comes out and supports us."\
*The Astros handed out their team awards prior to Tuesday's game. Jose Altuve, who was called up to Class A Tri-City a few weeks ago, was named MVP. Grant Hogue received the Oscar Padron Award for his dedication to the club both on and off the field.
*West Division champion Elizabethton (45-23) and East Division winner Danville (47-21) will begin the three-game Appalachian League championship series tonight at Joe O'Brien Field in Elizabethton.
This marks the fourth time in five years the Twins and Braves have met for the league title and the sixth consecutive year at least one of the two teams has been in the series.
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