LAWRENCEVILLE — By his fourth at-bat the home crowd took notice of Matt Young.
When the outfield stepped to the plate for his final time Saturday the crowd of more than 6,000 at Coolray Field offered a hearty applause.
Knights 8, G-Braves 4
What happened: Three Charlotte home runs paved the way for the G-Braves fourth straight loss. Gwinnett starter Jose Ortegano gave up six runs off 10 hits over five innings for his sixth loss of the season. The lefty allowed two of the homers. Matt Young gave Gwinnett a small bright spot on offense, going 1-for-2 with an RBI double, two stolen bases and two walks. Wes Timmons had three hits and Barbaro Canizares had two. The G-Braves didn’t put a runner on base in the final two innings.
Stat of the day: Wes Timmons went 3-for-4 with a double, but all his hit came with two outs.
Web gem: 3B Wes Timmons and 1B Freddie Freeman ended the Knights’ third with a 5-3 double play. With runners on first and second, Timmons grabbed a sharp grounder, stepped on third and Freeman made a leaping catch and tag on Timmons’ throw to first.
Pivotal moment: Starter Jose Ortegano ran out of steam in the fifth inning. He gave up four runs off five hits and walked one as Charlotte turned a 2-2 tie into a 6-2 lead.
Rehab watch: In his second game with the G-Braves CF Nate McClouth went 1-for-4 with a run scored and a stolen base. He looked comfortable in center field.
On deck: With recently called up starter LHP Mike Minor in Anaheim, Calif., for the All Star Futures Game, the G-Braves will go Vladimir Nunze and the bullpen against Charlotte’s RHP Brandon Hynick.
He grounded out in that at-bat, but by that time he already had a single, an RBI, two walks, two runs scored and two stolen bases. His two steals came in one inning when he stole second and third to set up an RBI for Freddie Freeman when the first baseman grounded out.
Of the G-Braves four runs, Young was involved in three of them. He doubled in the first inning to score rehabbing major leaguer Nate McLouth.
For all of Young’s contributions, it didn’t translate to success in the G-Braves’ 8-4 loss to Charlotte. It’s Gwinnett’s fourth loss in a row and sixth in its last seven games. The seven-game winning streak from a week ago seems like a memory.
“That’s what you find yourself saying when you aren’t winning, that you are looking for that big hit,” manager Dave Brundage said. “When we were winning seven in a row, that certainly wasn’t the case.
But if the G-Braves need any solace that things can turn around they need only look to Matt Young.
In the middle of April, the first-year Class AAA outfielder was hitting just .216. A month before that it was below .200. But just as quickly as things went bad for Young, he turned them around. Through the end of June his average steadily climbed and he now sits at .306 with 21 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.
Though the G-Braves only had eight hits in Saturday’s loss it wasn’t without a few hopeful performances. Wes Timmons went 3-for-4 with a double, reaching base every time with two outs. Barbaro Canizares went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
“We ran the bases aggressively and were about to manufacture some runs,” Brundage said.
Led by Young, the G-Braves took an early 2-0 lead before Charlotte unleashed a home run barrage. The first shots came against starter Jose Ortegano. After three shutout innings, the lefty gave up a game-tying two-run home run to Marietta-native Tyler Flowers.
Then came the fourth inning.
Ortegano gave up a pair of lead-off singles and after a strike out and RBI ground-out looked to be out of the inning. A walk later, Josh Kroeger put another ball in the seats to score three more runs and give Charlotte a 6-2 lead.
“It looked like (Ortegano) ran out of steam,” Brundage said. “We are working to fix that. He is learning on the go and learning here in triple-A.”
Stefan Gartrell continued the deep balls when he hit his second home run to lead off the seventh off Scott Proctor.
“We got beat by the long ball today,” Brundage said. “We got beat by three pitches.”
Gwinnett added runs in the fifth and sixth, but went down in order in the final two innings.
“It’s tough to play small ball when you are down by four,” Brundage said. “That’s when we are at our best this year.”