Volstad’s start and Gillaspie’s clutch HR lifts Knights to series split

The Queen City Knights want to finish the 2017 season strong, even though they will miss the International League’s Governors Cup playoffs for the fifth straight season, and in today’s series finale against the International League’s South Division champion Durham Bulls, they would get a strong outing from starting pitcher Chris Volstad, while Casey Gillaspie would deliver a clutch home run in the bottom half of the Knights 7th would be the difference in a 4-1 win for the Knights at a rain-soaked BB&T Ballpark to split the series against their rivals from Durham and improving to 59-79.

The game would be scoreless through the first 3 1/2 innings until the bottom half of the Knights fourth inning, that was when center fielder Jacob May would start off the inning with a double off Durham starting pitcher Yonny Chirinos, who did not factor in the decision after going 5 innings, and May would cruise over to third base on an error committed by Bulls right fielder Patrick Leonard, and that would set up Cody Asche’s RBI sacrifice fly to center to bring home May for the first run of the game for the Queen City Knights to make it a 1-0 lead, and that would be just the lone run that Chirinos would allow, despite being it an unearned run on the day, while striking out 5 Knights on the afternoon.

The Bulls would tie things up in the top half of the fifth, as Johnny Field would step in and lace a double to left field, then Jake Hager would follow him up and he would reach on a two-base error committed by Knights third baseman Ronald Bueno, allowing Field to score to even the game up at 1-1, as Volstad would give up a unearned run of his own in his seven solid innings of work, striking out three Bulls and not allowing a single walk to earn his third win of the season.

It would remain a 1-1 game until the bottom half of the sixth for the Knights, that was when shortstop Eddy Alvarez got the inning going with a single off Chase Whitley, who came into the game to relieve Chirinos, and Alvarez would steal second base after Jacob May would strike out swinging for the second out of the inning, then Asche would step to the plate again and would knock in his second RBI of the afternoon, as it would turn out to be the go-ahead run for the Knights as Alvarez would trot home to give Queen City a 2-1 lead.

Rymer Liriano would begin the bottom half of the seventh inning for the Queen City Knights with a double to left field, then Danny Hayes would ground out to move Liriano over to third, then with a man on and only one man out, Casey Gillaspie would come up to the plate, and on a 1-1 pitch, he would take Whitley’s pitch to right field for his 14th home run of the season, which would be a 2-run shot to make it a 4-1 lead.

The Knights bullpen would do the rest, as Matt Purke and Brandon Brennan would each allow a hit respectively in the final two innings, while Brennan would notch his fifth save of the season to give the Queen City Knights a 4-1 win in today’s game.

On Friday, the Queen City Knights will be back in action as they welcome in the Norfolk Tides, triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles to BB&T Ballpark on “Hall of Fame” night, as the Knights will induct former Charlotte O’s fan favorite Drungo Hazewood into the Charlotte Baseball Roundtable of Honor, with first pitch slated for 7:05 p.m., for the first of a four-game set to wrap up the 2017 season.