It took only 11 innings last night for the Charlotte Knights to prevail in Game one of their four-game set over the Syracuse Chiefs at BB&T Ballpark, but tonight was a different story, as it was Anthony Ranaudo’s turn to carry the momentum from last night’s extra inning affair into tonight’s game, and he was lights out in his seven innings of work, while a four-run fourth inning was all the difference as Charlotte would cruise to a 7-4 win over the Chiefs at BB&T Ballpark to maintain their first-place lead in the International League’s South Division by two games over the Gwinnett Braves.
The scoring got started in the bottom of the first innings for the Knights, as shortstop Tim Anderson would continue his stellar play by getting on board with a single off Chiefs starting pitcher Taylor Hill(L, 2-4). After Hill struck out Carlos Sanchez, Jason Coats would step up to the plate for the Knights, and laced a triple that would bring home Anderson all the way from first to put the Knights on top 1-0, while an error by Syracuse second baseman Jose Lozada would allow Coats to reach home to make it a 2-0 lead for Charlotte.
In the bottom half of the third inning, Knights left fielder Jason Bourgeois would launch his second home run of the season to make it a 3-0 lead for the Knights, giving Ranaudo a sizable lead entering the top half of the fourth inning, and in the inning, the Chiefs would cut into Charlotte’s lead. After Trea Turner would pop out to Carlos Sanchez for the first out of the inning, Brian Goodwin would get on board with a single to center field, and after Ranaudo’s strikeout of Matt den Dekker, it would be up to first baseman Matt Skole to put Syracuse on the board, and he did just that as his RBI double would bring in Goodwin to make it a 3-1 game, and that one run would be the only mistake that Ranaudo would make, as he was solid in his seven innings of work, striking out 5 Chiefs batter and not allowing a single walk in his outing for Charlotte.
The bottom half of the fourth inning would be the difference maker for the Knights, as there were just two outs in the inning when Nicky Delmonico stepped into the batters box, and would launch his first Triple-A home run to increase the lead to 4-1, but the Knights were looking to add on some more runs, and they did just that as Leury Garcia singled to left field, and after a walk to Omar Narvaez, the Knights catcher, it would be Tim Anderson time again, and he would drive in Garcia with an RBI double to left field to make it a 5-1 lead for Charlotte, as it would mark the end of the line for Hill, who only lasted just 3 2/3 innings on the night, allowing all 7 runs on seven hits. The next batter in the inning for Charlotte was Carlos Sanchez, and he would cap off the four-run fourth bringing home Narvaez and Anderson to make it a 7-1 lead for Charlotte, as those seven runs would be just enough on the night for the Knights.
Fast forward to the 8th inning, as Blake Smith would come into the game out of the bullpen for the Knights, and his first batter was Caleb Ramsey, and Ramsey would send a double to left center field. A few batters later, Pedro Severino would step up to the plate and his RBI double would be good enough to drive in Ramsey to make it a 7-2 lead for Charlotte, going into the top half of the ninth inning.
The Chiefs would once again put together a little rally in the top half of the inning, as Brian Goodwin would send Smith’s 1-0 delivery over the left-field fence to make it a 7-3 game, and den Dekker would follow up with a double down the left field line. Skole would follow up with a single of his own, and Jason Martinson singled to center to drive Matt den Dekker in to give Syracuse a little life as they cut the Knights lead to just 3 at 7-4, chasing Smith from the game, and bringing in Tommy Kahnle from the bullpen to try to close things out, and he did just that to notch his third save of the year and giving the Knights the win at home tonight.
Charlotte and Syracuse will meet once again in Game 3 of their four game set tomorrow night at BB&T Ballpark with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch, as the Knights will send out RHP Scott Carroll(0-2, 6.75 ERA), while the Chiefs have yet to announce their starter for tomorrow night’s game. Also, former Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners manager Lou Piniella will be on hand to meet fans and sign autographs, as well as throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.