Instead, it was Johnson City that got off to a slow start and committed four errors in a 9-2 loss to the Royals in Game 1 of the league championship series on Monday at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
Vinnie Pasquantino homered in the first inning and Jake Means smacked a two-run shot in the sixth for Burlington, which outlasted Pulaski 5-4 in their marathon semifinal series finale.
Chandler Redmond had a line-drive homer in the second and Carlos Soler added his own solo shot in the fifth for Johnson City.
Overall, the Royals outhit the Cardinals 10-6 and they went 5-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Conversely, Johnson City was 0-for-6 in the same situations, stranding 10 baserunners.
Play shifts to Burlington Athletic Stadium for the rest of the best-of-three series. First pitch Tuesday is set for 6:30 p.m.
Johnson City is seeking its fifth Appy League championship since 2010 and 10th title overall.
“We feel confident,” Johnson City manager Roberto Espinoza said. “We’ve been able to bounce back all season. We just have to play a good game tomorrow. We have Hector Soto coming in as our guy and he’s been pitching good games for us. He just has to do the job tomorrow.”
Burlington, twice a league champion, is seeking its first Appy title since becoming a Royals affiliate in 2006. The previous championships, in 1987 and 1993, were with the Cleveland Indians organization.