BY WAYNE PHILLIPS
With only one game left in the season, the Greeneville Astros need a win over Princeton tonight and a loss by Bristol in their game with Elizabethton to escape the cellar of the Appalachian League West Division for the third straight year.
Greeneville dropped a 6-2 decision to the Rays Monday night at Pioneer Park and are 26-40 on the year heading into tonight's season finale. Bristol is 26-39 and holds a half-game lead over the Astros due to one Bristol rainout not being rescheduled.
Tonight is "Fan Appreciation Night" at Pioneer Park as the 2009 Astros say good-bye to Greeneville, with many of them heading to other locations in the Houston organization to continue their quest for a Major League career. A big fireworks show is scheduled to begin once the final out of the 2009 season is made tonight.
It sounds like a broken record, but the same problem that has tormented the Astros all season, pitching woes, continued to plague them Monday. This time, the starting pitcher, Juri Prez, never made it past the second batter of the game before he apparently suffered an arm injury and left the mound with the trainer on his way to the locker room. He struck out the first batter he faced, then on the first pitch to the second hitter he sustained the injury.
David Martinez came on in early relief and got out of the first inning, but Jason Patton torched him with a two-run homer in the second inning and Princeton never trailed in the contest.
In the third, the Rays tacked on three more runs. Kyle Spraker walked and Ty Morrison singled, and Spraker scored on a sacrifice fly by Brian Bryles. After a walk to Ryan Wiegland, with both runners moving up on a double steal, Julio Cedeno brought them home with a two-run single.
Greeneville got a run back to close to 5-1 in the bottom of the third off Princeton starter and winner Zachary Rosscup (3-4). Carlos Mojica had a one-out single and later scored on Jiovanni Mier's sacrifice fly.
Princeton got its final run in the fifth inning on a mammoth home run by Wiegland, who sent a shot over the right field wall that disappeared into the darkness beyond the stadium lights.
Greeneville's final run came in the sixth when Mier tripled down the line in left and scored on an infield groundout by Nathan Metroka.
Cedeno finished with four hits to lead the Rays on offense. Oscar Figueroa and Kyle Miller each had two hits for Greeneville.
David Martinez (1-4) took the mound loss after replacing the injured Perez.