Knights get crucial win over Braves to set stage for division title showdown

It was a playoff-like atmosphere tonight at BB&T Ballpark, as the Charlotte Knights welcomed in the Gwinnett Braves in the first of two games that could well decide the winner of the International Leagues’ South Division, and game one would go to the home team, as the Knights would leap back into first place in the division with a 7-1 win over the Braves before a BB&T Ballpark crowd of 10,708.

The story of the night was the performance by Charlotte starter Terance Marin, who pitched extremely well in the win, as he had a no-hit bid going for him through the first four innings of the night, before surrendering a single to Braves right fielder Mel Rojas Jr. to end the no-hit bid, but the rest of the way, he held them scoreless, as he would just allow three hits over his 7 1/3 innings of work on the night, while striking out 4 and walking just two batters to earn his eighth win of the season.

As for the Knights offense, they would give Marin all the run support he needed, as Charlotte would get on the board first on an RBI double by Vinny Rottino to drive in Jason Bourgeois to put the Knights on the board 1-0.

It would remain 1-0 until the bottom of the fourth, as the Knights would have a three run inning, with the first of the three runs coming on a double by Jacob May, driving in Bourgeois to make it 2-0 Charlotte, then the next batter in the inning was Rottino, and he would deliver a single to center field, allowing May to score from third to make it a 3-o lead for Charlotte.  A few batters later, Jason Coats would join in on the action as his RBI single would bring in Rottino as Charlotte would build a commanding lead at 4-0, ending the night for Gwinnett starter Rob Wooten(L, 3-5).

The bottom half of the sixth would see yet another big inning for the Knights. Jake Peter would have an RBI single of his own, bringing in Rottino to make it 5-0 Charlotte, while Nicky Delmonico’s 2-RBI single to bring in Eddy Alvarez and Leury Garcia made it a 7-0 lead for Charlotte.

Gwinnett would score late in the top of the 9th against Matt Purke out of the Knights bullpen, as Rio Ruiz’s single drove home the Braves first and only run of the game, as Ronnier Mustelier came in on Ruiz’s single to make it a 7-1 game, which would turn out to be the final score as Charlotte regained the top spot in the International League’s South Division.

On Monday, the season comes down to a decisive winner take-all showdown at BB&T Ballpark for the IL South Division title and a spot in the Governors Cup Playoffs as the Knights and Braves will square off to see who moves on and who goes home, with the first pitch slated for 2:05 p.m. on Labor Day Monday.

NOTES: The Charlotte Knights paid tribute to the 40th Anniversary of the 1976 Charlotte O’s, as 20 former Charlotte O’s players, including National Baseball Hall of Fame member Eddie Murray, who also threw out the ceremonial first pitch…Frances Crockett, who served as the general manager of the Charlotte O’s from 1976-1985, was officially inducted into the Charlotte Baseball Roundtable of Honor during a pregame ceremony, while Jim Schaffer, the first manager of the Charlotte O’s, received the first ever “King of Uptown” award.