Knights pummel Gwinnett in road trip finale

After a 3-1 win last night, the Charlotte Knights were looking to finish off the road portion of their schedule today on a positive note entering their game against the triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, the Gwinnett Braves at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and they would do in resounding fashion with two big innings to come away with a 12-5 win over the Braves, as Charlotte would improve to 57-77, while the Gwinnett Braves would fall to 67-66.

Things would get off to a rocky start for the Knights in the bottom half of the second inning, as Micah Johnson would lead off the inning with a triple off Charlotte starter Steve Johnson(W, 2-3), and after a walk to Matt Tuiasosopo, Kyle Kubitza would step up to the plate, and his deep sacrifice fly to left field was deep enough to bring Johnson home and to put the G-Braves up 1-0.  Luis Valenzuela would add on to the lead as his RBI single drove in Tuiasosopo to give Gwinnett a 2-0 lead.

Later in the fourth inning, the Braves would double their lead, as the inning would begin with a walk by Sal Giardina, then Valenzuela would add on another RBI to his day, as his triple on a 2-2 pitch off Johnson would get Giardina home and give the Braves a 3-0 lead over Charlotte.  The next batter was the always dangerous Ronald Acuna, and his sacrifice fly would bring Valenzuela home with the fourth run of the day for Gwinnett, as it would be 4-0 entering the fifth inning, and the Knights would begin their comeback.

The six-run inning would all begin for the Knights as Casey Gillaspie would start off the Charlotte half of the fifth with a line drive double to right field, and Ronald Bueno would follow up with a double of his own to right field, allowing Gillaspie to score and to put the Knights on the board to make it a 4-1 ballgame.  Then three batters later, Jacob May would step in and deliver a single to load up the bases for Cody Asche, and his 2-RBI single would drive in two more runs for Charlotte as it would be a one-run game at 4-3, and with Rymer Liriano at the plate, Jacob May would steal his 29th base of the season to tie things up at 4-4, while Asche would steal second base in the process, and Liriano’s RBI single brought in the go-ahead run for Charlotte, as Asche would score from second to give the Knights a 5-4 edge, and the 6-run comeback would be completed with a double by Danny Hayes to bring in Liriano to give the Knights a 6-4 edge, as it would be the end of the line for Gwinnett starter Aaron Blair(L, 7-8), who would only last 4 2/3 innings as he was ejected by home plate umpire John Bacon in the fifth inning.

As for Charlotte’s starting pitcher, Steve Johnson, he pitched 5 innings to earn his second win in a Knights uniform, allowing just four runs on five hits, while striking out 5 in his start for the Knights

Charlotte would once again have another big inning, this time it was in the top half of the eighth, as it would begin with a walk to Hayes, then Gillaspie would move Hayes up to second base with a base hit to left field. Ronald Bueno would later draw a walk to load up the bases, and one batter later, Eddy Alvarez would draw an RBI walk to give the Knights a 7-4 game as Gillaspie would trot home from third.

The bases would still be loaded for Jake Peter, and he would clean them with a 3-RBI double to bring home Bueno, Chris O’Dowd, and Alvarez to give Charlotte a 10-4 lead, and they would add another run on a wild pitch by Braves reliever Rex Brothers, as Peter would score the fifth run of the inning to make it a 11-4 lead for the Knights.

Chris O’ Dowd would deliver a RBI single in the top half of the Charlotte ninth to allow Gillaspie to score to make it a 12-4 lead for the Knights, while in the bottom of the ninth, Xavier Avery’s RBI double to bring home Acuna made it a 12-5 game, as the Knights would hold on for a 7-run win to complete the eight-game road trip going 4-4 and finishing up the road portion of the schedule with a 26-45 record.

The Charlotte Knights will return home to BB&T Ballpark in uptown Charlotte to begin the final homestand of the 2017 season on Monday night against the International League South Division champion Durham Bulls(Tampa Bay Rays affiliate) in the first of a 4-game set, with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch slated for tomorrow.

NOTES: This was the last time that the Knights will face Gwinnett under the “Gwinnett Braves” moniker, which has been with them since the start of the 2009 season, as the team will be playing under a new name in the 2018 season…Former Charlotte Knight Lucas Giolito, who earlier in the season tossed the first no-hitter in BB&T Ballpark history, notched his first Major League win for the Chicago White Sox.