Six unanswered runs propel the Gwinnett Stripers to a 6-3 win over the Charlotte Knights
Preview: Charlotte Knights (29-49) vs Gwinnett Stripers (37-41)
Coming into tonight's holiday weekend (4th of July game), both the Gwinnett Stripers (37-41, 10.5 GB in the International League West/AAA) and the Charlotte Knights (29-49, 13 GB in the International League East/AAA) are looking to get the series off to a good start.
Charlotte (the AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) enters the game with Eloy Jimenez (bating .226 with 6 runs batted in during his current rehab stint as he may get recalled by the end of this week), Mark Payton (.280 batting average with 11 home runs and 43 RBI"s), Blake Rutherford (.275 BA with 32 RBI's), and Carlos Perez (.278 BA with 12 HR and 46 RBI's) leading the team's offense. Pitcher Mike Wright, Jr. (2-3 with a 4.17 ERA) toes the rubber for the Knights as they look to win their 3rd game in a row.
Gwinnett's Nolan Kingham (1-1 with a 3.89 ERA) looks to keep the Charlotte offense at bay. With the starting lineup offense led by Braden Shewmake (.270 BA with 17 RBI's), Preston Tucker (.246 BA with 30 RBI's), and Pat Valaika (.257 BA with 7 HR and 32 RBI's), the Stripers (the AAA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves) look to strike first in the series opener.
Highlights: the Gwinnett Stripers defeat the Charlotte Knights 6-3
Charlotte wastes little time in getting on the scoreboard.
After leadoff hits in the top of the first inning by Mark Payton and Yolbert Sanchez, a misplay on a ball hit by Eloy Jimenez leads to the Knights taking an early 2-0 lead. Blake Rutherford would add a sacrifice fly to give Charlotte a 3-0 lead to chase Gwinnett starter Nolan Kingham.
However, the Stripers would respond with an offensive flurry of their onw in the bottom half of the inning off the Knights' Mike Wright, Jr.
RBI hits by Pat Valaika and Preston Tucker would cut the lead to 3-2. Alex Dickerson would add a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3.
Both teams' pitching would settle down and keep the score deadlocked at 3.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, Gwinnett would work the bases loaded against Yoan Aybar (who drops to 0-3 as the losing pitcher). He would walk in a run (the RBI is credited to Preston Tucker) as the Stripers would take a 4-3 lead.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Knights intentionally walk Ryan Casteel (1 for 3) to load the bases with 2 outs, bringing Ryan Goins to the plate with 2 outs; Goins would connect on a single to right field to drive in 2 runs, giving the Stripers some added insurance and a 6-3 lead. Michael Tonkin (6th save) would close out the 9th inning to seal the deal for Gwinnett.
Despite the rocky start, Gwinnett's Nolan Kingham would earn the win (2-1) as he goes 5 innings (allowing 3 runs/2 earned with 4 strikeouts and a walk). Goins (2 for 4 with 2 RBI's) and Tucker (1 for 3 with 2 RBI's) are instrumental in the Stripers' win as after the 1st inning, the team's pitching would shut out the Knights, resulting in 6 unanswered runs by Gwinnett for the win.
The Knights' Eloy Jimenez (2 for 4 with 1 RBI), Blake Rutherford (1 for 3 with 1 RBI), and Yolbert Sanchez (2 for 4) set the tone for the Charlotte offense (click HERE for the box score).
Charlotte drops to 29-50 overall, while Gwinnett (38-41) moves to 3 games under .500 with tonight's win.
The series resumes at CoolRay Field on July 6th (7:05pm EST first pitch).
Notes: All photos and video are recorded by Andrew Snorton
Video snapshot of the Knights taking an early 3-0 lead.
Video snapshot of the Stripers tying the game (3-3).
Video snapshot of the Stripers making it a 4-3 game.
Photo grid 1 includes the following: top row (left to right) features snapshots of the Stripers as well as the managers for both teams (Gwinnett Stripers and Charlotte Knights). As an aside, the first pitch is pushed back to 7:20pm given travel issues with the Stripers from their series in Norfolk. The second row from the top (left to right) include photos from the more than 8,000 people in attendance (near capacity) and Gwinnett's mascot (Striper). The third row (left to right) highlights the Knights' Mark Payton and Eloy Jimenez. Jimenez is on rehab as it's probable he'll rejoin the White Sox (as an outfielder or designated hitter) by early next week (just before the All-Star Break). The bottom row (left to right) includes Gwinnett starting pitcher Nolan Kingham (who survives a rocky first inning to go 5 innings and earn the win) and leadoff batter (for Gwinnett) Drew Waters.
Photo grid 2 includes the following: top row (left to right) shows the Stripers celebrating scoring runs in the first inning to tie the game at 3 along with Ryan Casteel at the plate. The second row from the top (left to right) is a closeup of Stripers' shortstop Braden Shewmake at the plate as well as making a play on a stolen base attempt by Charlotte's Laz Rivera. The third row (left to right) includes Gwinnett focused as they score 6 unanswered runs (as the pitching holds Charlotte scoreless after their 3 runs scored in the top of the 1st inning) and Pat Valaika at the plate (Gwinnett). The bottom row includes Walters at the plate and the fans getting into the game during the 7th inning stretch.